Eggplant Caviar ~ The Perfect Dip for a Pita Chip

Smoky, flavorful, and a healthy alternative to cream-based dips, Eggplant Caviar has roots  in both Russia (as baklazhanaya ikra) and France (as caviar d’aubergine).  It is simple to make and has a marvelously creamy texture and a bright, fresh flavor.  

I like to serve my Eggplant Caviar with pita chips or toasted pita wedges. I'm always pleased when those who profess to dislike eggplant try this dip and then go back for seconds...

Eggplant Caviar

2 purple globe eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds each)
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of one small lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Step 1: Pierce eggplants all over with a bamboo skewer, then roast. You may do this either by placing them directly on top of the burners of a gas range, turning the flame on high, then turning as each side blackens and softens, until the skins are completely black and the inside is tender. Alternatively, you can broil the pierced eggplants in a shallow dish, turning every five minutes until the entire eggplant is blackened and the flesh is fall-apart-tender.

Step 2: Peel away the blackened skin and discard the stem of the eggplants. Keep a water bowl on hand to remove any skin that sticks to your fingers.

Step 3: Place eggplants in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the shallots, garlic tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, cumin and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Dip is ready to eat, but gets better after it has been refrigerated for a few hours. Delicious when served warm on a cold evening. Refreshing when served cold on a hot day.

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