Eggplant Caviar

7/30/13

It all began with eggplant.

In the throes of last summer's heat, as newly married wife eager to impress a husband who possessed a decidedly epicurean appetite, I chose to broil eggplant, according to a recipe discovered here, and make eggplant caviar. 


As could be expected, I chose the hottest evening of the week to turn on our broiler and fill our tiny apartment with steam and smoke. I followed the recipe carefully. Scraping the pith of the aubergine; crushing the garlic; creaming together the salt and cumin. The recipe called for sea salt, and having none on hand, I substituted table salt, mixing the eggplant spread and toasting slices of a long baguette.


We carried our dinner and sat on living room floor, leaning toward the fan's cool breeze, as we tried to escape the heat of the kitchen. I was thrilled by the sophistication of this strange new meal, and eagerly watched as husband took his first bite. 

It was terrible. Truly terrible. And I will neither confirm nor deny that there was much spitting of the food onto plates, both delicately and indelicately. This was the moment that I learned the difference between cooking with sea salt and table salt. Utter shambles.


A little older and a little wiser, I saw eggplant at the market last week and thought perhaps it was time to try  crafting eggplant caviar once again. I know the end result look gross. Truly I do. But think of it as hummus: a vegetable blended till  smooth, with just enough spice and a little (just a little) salt. The original recipe called for fresh garlic and rock salt. I substituted roasted garlic and table salt. And I must say, the result this time was delightful. Husband approved.

ingredients:
  • 1 large eggplant (or several smaller ones)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 cloves of roasted garlic
  • the juice from half a lemon

procedure:

Slice eggplants lengthwise. 

Using a small knife or fork, puncture several holes into the side of eggplant to help release steam while roasting. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and drizzle in olive oil.

Depending on size, broil eggplants for 20 - 40 minutes, turning once

When the eggplants are soft and withered, remove them from oven and allow them to cool.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, scrape the cooked eggplant out of its skin and into a bowl.

Add the cumin, garlic, salt and juice from half a lemon to eggplant and stir.

Garnish with fresh herbs (basil or thyme) and serve warm or at room temperature, spread on a bit of crostini

Eat and enjoy.

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