Jamie Larsen's roasted garlic and eggplant salad or dip
1 medium to large eggplant
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 TBS chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Red leaf lettuce (or any other tender salad green)
garden rip tomatoes: grape, cherry, plum, or thick-sliced slicers
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel garlic and cut into slices. Cut a few long slits into the skin of each half of the eggplant and insert garlic sliver. Place on foil-lined baking sheet brushed with olive oil and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until silky tender when pierced through. During baking, Jamie turns hers every 30 minutes or so, but I put mine in the oven and went to doing something else and never turned them once and they were fine. Remove from oven and cut eggplants in half; cool slightly.
Scrape eggplant pulp out of skin into food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and cool comploetely in refrigerator. Keeps well for a day or two. When ready to use, set out the bowl as a dip with pita bread or fix individual salads by lining plates with lettuce leaves, spooning the eggplant puree into the middle and arranging tomatoes around edges. Drizzle top with olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with oregano springs.
Another friend makes a similar puree keeping the eggplant skins on and throwing in a few roasted tomatoes and serves it as eggplant pesto pizza. Spread pesto on a flour tortilla, top with the eggplant puree and slices of mozzarella cheese. Heat the lot in a toaster oven until cheese melts, and serve the "pizza" folded over as you would a taco.
As long as you're keeping the eggplant puree on hand, you can stir a quarter of a cup into a quart of tomato soup or black bean chili for the flavor, fiber and texture.
Recipes from the "Independent Weekly" August 20, 2008 by Sheryl Cornett