When we have folks over for pizza, it's always a challenge to think up a non-cheesy, non-bread-y appetizer to serve when the main dish is the ultimate in bread-y, cheese-y goodness. This dip fit the bill one unusually warm January day last week. We served it with sliced carrots and zucchini, which also worked well in terms of everyone's new 2014 goals.
If you've never roasted an eggplant, know it's really easy. It's so much fun to take something and intentionally burn it -- lots better than accidentally burning something! You see, it's a little magic trick. The skin of the eggplant protects the flesh that steams and smokes as the burning happens. The result is a smooth, smoky dip that even the eggplant skeptics can love. This would be a great thing to bring to your upcoming Super Bowl party; innocently set it out next to the chips and wings; you'll get some good feedback, we think.
Roasted Eggplant and Pine Nut Dip (GF, Paleo, Vegan)
2 medium Italian eggplants
1 large head roasted garlic* (peeled)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil (more for drizzling)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Smoked paprika (to garnish)
3 medium red peppers (sliced for dipping)
Roast the whole eggplants until the skin is blackened. There are two simple methods: outdoor grill or indoor broiler. If you use your outdoor grill, the side burner that sees very little use is the best tool for this. Just place eggplants on the open flame on the burner on the hottest part of your grill. Using grill tongs, turn the eggplant once one side is black. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to char the eggplants. The same method can be used for the garlic.
Place eggplants in a covered container and allow them to cool completely. Once cool, pull all of the flesh from the eggplants using your hands. Discard the charred skin and also the excess bitter liquid that seeped out during the cooling process. Peel the garlic and discard the papery skins.
Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the eggplant flesh, garlic, pine nuts, champagne vinegar, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Run the processor until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in a bowl garnished with paprika and surrounded by red peppers. (Serves 4 to 6.)
*To save time, grab about 1 dozen cloves of roasted garlic from the olive bar. It's a great thing to have on hand.