THE ULTIMATE EGGPLANT DIP
So I feel like the eggplant doesn’t get a lot of love! Recently, at the market, all the stands seem to have some sort of eggplant variety: the most common (classic), Japanese, white, Thai green, fairytale (those small purple ones above), Sicilian, baby. I have in the past bought the Thai green eggplants when I see them in the Asian supermarkets; they are the little green round ones that can fit in the palm of your hand and are my favorite when making a thai green curry. I just throw them in whole and let them simmer in the curry (fairytales are great for that too).
There are so many more ways to use eggplant, though - roasting and scooping out the inside to make a great dip, breading and sautéing for an eggplant parm, or just frying and making a caponata. Personally, I love fire-roasting eggplants, outside on coals or a gas grill or just over your gas stove flame. Eggplants take on incredible smokiness, so I wanted to share my favorite, smoky eggplant dip from my cookbook.
This dip is based on baba ganoush, a traditional Middle Eastern mezze of smoky eggplant purée mixed with tahini and extra virgin olive oil. I also add a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of chives to give it that rich, party-worthy dip feel. Fried fingerlings or other small potatoes are the perfect match for this! Enjoy!
For the eggplant dip:
3 whole Italian eggplants
1 clove roasted/raw garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Chives, for garnish
For the fingerling chips:
canola or peanut oil for frying
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed, skin-on
Salt, to finish
For the eggplant dip: Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Prick the eggplants all over with a fork and then place on the open flame of a gas burner. You want to char the skin all over the eggplant to impart smokiness. If you don’t have a gas burner, you can do this on a grill or under the broiler.
Once the skin is charred and shriveling, transfer to a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven for another 25 to 30 minutes.
Let the eggplants cool before handling. Split them open and scrape out all the flesh inside into a medium bowl. Add the garlic, tahini, crème fraiche, lemon juice and salt and use a fork to mash everything together. You want to create a creamy consistency but with texture. You can also do this in the food processor if you want something smoother. Taste and readjust seasoning. Chill before serving.
For the fingerling chips: In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat 3 to 4 inches of oil to 360° F. The oil should go less than halfway up the pot.
Using a mandolin or with a very sharp knife, thinly slice the fingerling potatoes and transfer to a bowl of water. Gently mix the potato slices, strain out the water and dry on paper towels. The potatoes should be completely dry before adding to the oil or they will spatter and bubble up.
Add the fingerling slices to the oil, working in batches, and fry for about 45 seconds to 2 minutes depending on how thick you sliced them. You basically want them golden brown. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate and finish them with salt.
Serve the dip cold with fingerling chips on the side.