Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Roasted Peppers Dip

This spicy and smoky dip is beautiful on it's own, or as a filling if you want to get creative with what to wrap around it. I came across it while making some Poppy Seed Tartlets that call for it served over a ricotta mixture...and though the tartlets left a bit to be desired, this was the silver lining that made it all worth the effort.

I must warn, however, that it is ill-advised to jump the gun on this if you're not feeling up to brushing, grilling, roasting, peeling, seeding, processing, and slicing. Seriously. The eggplant slices get brushed before grilling, the peppers are roasted and then peeled. It's not exactly quick and easy. This dip is a labor of love. And it gives back.

                    1 lb. eggplant
                    1/4 cup chili oil
                    1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
                    1/2 tsp. ground cumin
                    1 medium red bell pepper
                    1 medium yellow bell pepper
                    1 small clove garlic
                    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat the grill to medium. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices and put the slices on a baking sheet. Stir the chili oil and the 1/4 cup olive oil together in a small bowl. Lightly brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil mixture and dust with a little ground cumin and salt.

Place the eggplant and peppers on the grill. Roast the eggplant until soft and well marked by the grill, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill to cool. Roast the peppers until black on all sides, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the grill and let cool. Peel the black skin off the peppers and then stem, derib, and take out the seeds. Put the eggplant slices, the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, half of each of the roasted peppers, garlic, and a little salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chunky, 5-10 seconds. Remove from the bowl and season with more salt if desired.

Cut the remaining roasted peppers into julienne strips and toss with the balsamic vinegar. Garnish the eggplant mixture with the julienned balsamic peppers. Store in the refrigerator covered for up to one week.

From Mary Cech, Savory Baking.

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