Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Red Pepper Dip

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Recently I tried a recipe billed as a pureed eggplant salad. It was very well received but I thought it needed work – the recipe contained bread, which gave the end product an odd texture and I thought dulled the flavours too much. It also called for some raw and some cooked vegetables. For the FC version I ended up roasting all the vegetables and getting rid of the bread, and the result was a very creamy and rich tasting dip brightened with roasted red pepper and tangy pieces of tomato. A slow grill would be fantastic for preparing the vegetables too; the idea is to roast as much moisture as possible out of them while concentrating their flavour.

Take two whole Asian or one split medium Italian eggplant, two whole medium tomatoes, and one large or two small whole red peppers and roast for 30 to 40 minutes in a medium oven until vegetables are soft and blackened. Meanwhile, chop two cloves of raw garlic and blend with 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil and ½ tsp of salt til garlic is completely pureed. Scrape the roasted eggplant out of its skin and add to blender; blend until creamy. Remove the skins from the peppers and dice finely; finely dice tomato as well. (My tomatoes and peppers still had quite a bit of moisture so I reduced them in a thick bottomed pan before stirring into the eggplant.) Add chopped peppers and tomatoes to eggplant and stir to distribute evenly. Let sit at least a couple of hours; best next day. Taste for flavour balance before serving. My batch made slightly more than one cup of dip.

The dip is really good with raw vegetables or with bread. Shown is Xinjiang nan bread, which costs 1-2 yuan (15-30 cents) for an eight to twelve inch round and makes pretty good pizza crust. Xinjiang (the Uighur Autonomous Region) is a northwestern province and home to one of the most trendy regional Chinese cuisines. Xinjiang food, like Tibetan food, is easy to find in Chengdu since we are also in the west.

10 comments:

A GROWN AZZED WOMAN said...

okay this is the recipe i have been looking for all my life.

the veggie paparazzo said...

Yum!

krysia said...

Quick question, I've heard some real horror stories about eating food from street vendors in China. Everyone that I've spoken to says that its not worth trying it, no matter how good it looks or smells. Is that the case?

Pepper said...

Hi Krysia, my street food post has a detailed answer to that question but the quick answer is that I love street food and eat it all the time, with some basic cautions, and have not been sick from it yet. (Did get sick once from restaurant food, but that was over in a few hours.)

It is a calculated risk, and better taken when you are in a place long term than when you could be ruining a one or two week vacation.

Phil of Phnomen*n has the Cambodian perspective here.

In Chendgu if you want to try the same items you can get them in the snack restaurants or on Jinli street, but I think they taste better (and are cheaper) from the street vendors.

charsiubao said...

i like your page and think it's really interesting, especially with all the local culture tidbits thrown in.

.. and i have 1 eggplant, 2 tomatoes, and garlic..

Peter M said...

Hi, this rendition looks & sounds like a variation of a Greek Melitzanosalata...you're right about roasting the veggies, slow BBQ heat works best and I use a mortar & pestle to work in garlic and incorporate olive oil slowly, better texture.

pepper said...

Good tip Peter, thanks.

faye said...

how long does this keep for? have you ever tried freezing it?

Pepper said...

Keeps for a few days. I don't think it would freeze well, but haven't tried this.

Faye said...

Okay, this got rave reviews! The intense flavour and the chunky texture was perfect for a crowd including veg and meatatarians. It was my first experience roasting vegetables, and it turned out rather well, although I did end up reducing the tomatoes as suggested before adding them in. Thanks!