The pear trees by our home have bloomed almost overnight – the indisputable sign of spring in February! While I do feel, we are completely cheated out of winter this year, I cannot but grin ear to ear to see the tender sprouted leaves and the pink and white blooms. Spring is poetry.
The weekend whizzed by in a wink. With two parties in our home, I had to rustle up a lot of dishes in very little time. Cleaning up for one quite late into Saturday night soon led to the prepping for the other one from early Sunday morning. It was busy and crazy but the company of good friends always make us happy.
Two of our favorite ingredients were brought in together this weekend; smoky roasted eggplants were pureed with the sun-dried tomatoes and then mashed with peppers, onions and fresh herbs. It turned out to be a bowl of delicious delight.
This dip is something I came up with while I am processing the hummus and trying to think of what else I could do for the starters. Right when I had made the sun-dried (oven-dried) tomatoes, I had plans to somehow pair those with eggplants and this was the right time.
I grew up loving the humble dish from Bengal, which we call “Begun Pora“(translated simply as “Eggplant Roasted”) - the smoky eggplant flesh is mashed with onion, fresh cilantro and hot green chili pepper along with mustard oil. We usually have Begun Pora with the Roti.
I designed this recipe on the same simplicity, but only added the sun-dried tomatoes, and substituted the mustard oil with the olive oil.
A takes a scoop and says “Wow, this is good! I never had this before”. Well I say, “that is because I never made it before”. Then he announced that everyone should give it a try, and it was gone in no time.
Serve this as a dip/condiment, pesto, spread or even a side dish.
Roasted Eggplant with Sun-dried Tomatoes
Ingredients: (serves 4-6 as a dip/condiment)
- 2 large eggplants (Italian Eggplant kind)
- 1/4 cup packed sun-dried tomatoes (in oil or the dried ones which have been reconstituted)
- 1/6 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- salt to taste
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 1/2 cup packed fresh herbs – leaf only (pref. flat leaf parsley or cilantro), finely chopped
- 2 green chili peppers, very thinly sliced (remove seeds and membrane if you do not want spicy)
- 1.5 – 2 tablespoons finely chopped onions (pref. red onions)
- a couple of tablespoons lightly roasted pine-nuts (optional – great for a little surprise bites)
- sumac for garnish (use smoky paprika or red chili powder if you do not have sumac)
If you are using dry tomatoes, reconstitute them in hot water for about 20 minutes or until softened. If you are using sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drain the tomatoes and the oil may be used instead of the extra virgin olive oil.
Pre heat oven to broil setting – about 500 deg. F. Slice the eggplants vertically into half. Poke each half on the skin side with fork to make a holes in multiple places. Coat all sides of the eggplant with some olive oil. Line a baking tray with foil. Place the eggplants cut side down and cook in oven for about 30 minutes or until the skin is blackened and the flesh softened.
alternatively: The eggplants may be grilled in an outside or stove top grill until the flesh is tender on moist. I will occasionally roast it over the flame of the stove too. Use any method. The stronger the smoky & charred flavor, the better.
Remove roasted eggplants from the oven and place them in a bowl and cover it. Alternatively they may be placed inside a ziploc bag. When cooled, after about 15 minutes, remove the charred skin from the eggplant and place all the softened flesh in a bowl.
In a food processor, combine eggplants, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, garlic (if you are using) and process with a steady stream of olive oil (saving about a tablespoon to drizzle on the top), until it is smooth creamy puree/mash.
Remove in a bowl and combine chopped onions, chili peppers, pine nuts (if you are using) and herbs. Top with the saved oil and the garnish with sumac (or paprika or chili powder).
Serve as dip/condiment with flat-breads or chips or veggies, or as spread on wraps and sandwiches or as a side dish. It really works well with everything!
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Post Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4-6 as a condiment
Serve as a dip, spread, condiment, or side