Saturday, July 11, 2015

Roasted Eggplant and Basil Spread

At the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this Sunday, you can look forward to these beautiful little orb eggplants from Sweetwater FarmWonderful things happen when you roast eggplants, as in these Middle Eastern and Chinese roasted eggplant dishes.

In Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem, they present a version of Baba Ganoush that is light and refreshing and lacks the traditional sesame paste. The eggplants are infused with smokiness by roasting them directly over the flames of a gas range. Rather than take the eggplants to the point when they were dripping messy juices over the range, I followed David Lebovitz's strategy of roasting followed by baking.

After the eggplants were soft and collapsed, I scooped out the flesh and whipped up an even simpler version of a roasted eggplant spread, seasoned with basil, lemon, sea salt, and olive oil. This is delicious served on toasted bread or as a vegetable side dish for a post-farmers market feast. 

Roasted Eggpant and Basil Spread
4 small globe eggplants
zest and juice from one lemon
1 handful basil leaves, torn
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees  Place the eggplants directly over the flames of a gas range and roast, turning occasionally, until they are charred all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so until they are soft when pierced through. Allow the eggplants to cool a little, then halve and scoop out the flesh from the charred skin. Chop the flesh coarsely and combine in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice, basil, olive oil, and salt. Taste and add more lemon, olive oil, or salt if needed. Enjoy.

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