This spring was a very cold and wet spring. That meant that our garden was very slow in taking off. It was just really getting going, and then it snowed this weekend. We got our first eggplant off the plant in late August. This weekend we got four big ones, and 5 small ones off the vine. It was an amazingly prolific plant, and we will certainly have one again next year. The first fruit we got we made with pasta. These ones we decided to do baba ganouj. Then I realized that I didn’t have any tahini. So here is a recipe for tahini-less eggplant spread.
I’ve done a blog on eggplant before, so I’m going to do something about one of the secondary ingredients–garlic. We can very rarely make anything without garlic. I was fortunate enough to get a whole braid of Spanish Roja garlic from the farmer’s market a few months ago. It is wonderfully spicy and flavorful seasoning. Sometimes I wonder what the spicy flavor there is, and I realize that it’s the garlic!
Garlic is a bulb that grows underground, much like an onion. In fact they are from the same family. Garlic is originally from central Asia. It spread quickly around the globe, though. The ancient Egyptians grew and used garlic. Imagine how easy it must have been to trade in garlic, and how ecstatic the new recipients must have been. You can carry the little dry cloves, plant it, and then revel in the taste. Garlic is an essential ancient ingredient all across Asia and Europe.
Garlic is also very medicinal. Countries with an indigenous cuisine high in garlic have lower cancer levels. It is believed that garlic also helps with blood pressure and cholesterol, is an antibiotic and antiviral. The antibiotic properties are such that Louis Pasteur used it in WWI and WWII as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene in soldiers.
Garlic does have some unfortunate side effects. The most noticeable is that if you eat entire jar of pesto (which my husband used to do on a very regular basis) your pores will start to exude garlic and your wife will insist that you leave the room.
Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip
- 4 medium eggplants.
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- 1 or 2 roasted red peppers from a jar (we put in 2, my husband thinks that was great, I think that 1 would have been better and not overwhelmed the eggplant). You can also roast them yourself.
- 1/4 cup of olive oil, plus extra for brushing.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
- Cut the eggplants into half or quarters depending on how big they are. Brush them with olive oil. Or I put them in a large bowl and tossed them in oil with my hands.
- Grill them on the grill. Start with skin side down. Then flip them over and grill on the light side until they just turn golden. The skin will be bubbly and crispy. Then put them back in a bowl and let them cool until you can handle them.
- Put the garlic in your food processor. Side note–if you don’t have a food processor you need one. Pulse until it is minced. Or you can mince it yourself.
- Once the eggplant is cool peel off the skin. Put the meat of the eggplant in a food processor with the garlic. Also put in your 1, or 2, roasted red peppers. Add in the salt. Pulse until it is a bit smooth. Add in the lemon juice and olive oil while the processor is running.
- Spread on good crusty bread, peta, or veggies.