Monday, September 16, 2013

Eggplant, red pepper, & roasted garlic dip

I'm a huge fan of veggie-based dips and sauces. Since I love eggplant, baba ghanoush is one of my favorites to serve cold. However, I think it tastes kind of funky if it gets warm or hot. This presents a problem for me at lunch time. See, my staple packed lunch is to stick a couple different veggies (often pre-frozen) plus some cooked protein in a microwave-safe container, then cover it with some kind of sauce and nuke the whole thing when I'm ready to eat. So I'm always looking for interesting sauce options that incorporate vegetables and still taste good after a trip in the nuker.

This was inspired by ajvar, a Balkan red pepper relish, which I discovered via The Clothes Make The Girl. My ingredients are virtually identical but the proportions and preparation are different. From what I understand, ajvar has more pepper than eggplant, is rough-textured like salsa, and has quite a bit of olive oil. This is more of a peppery baba ghanoush. I also streamlined the process by using roasted red peppers from a jar. I've served it cold with veggie dippers (it's awesome with snap peas and jicama sticks), and also hot (I used it instead of baba ghanoush in this recipe and brought it to work for lunch!).

EGGPLANT, RED PEPPER, AND ROASTED GARLIC DIP
Makes about 1.5 lbs

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 8 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained (I eyeballed half a 16 oz jar)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Minced fresh parsley, mint, or basil (optional)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Roast the garlic; I used the crock pot as per this recipe. Alternately, preheat oven to 350 F. Slice off the top of the head of garlic, drizzle on the olive oil, then wrap tightly in foil, twisting at the top. Bake for an hour and let cool.
  2. Heat oven to 500 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Roast for about an hour or until wrinkly and soft, turning it halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides into the bowl of a food processor, discarding the skin. Squeeze the cloves out of the roasted head of garlic into the food processor with the eggplant and add the peppers, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pulse until dip-able but still a bit chunky.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, if using, and serve. It will keep for a little over a week in the fridge.

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