January 14, 2014

Smoked Eggplant Dip

photo by Corey Woodruff
A couple months ago, I was invited to dinner at The Mediterranean Grill in Chesterfield, Missouri. It's a little restaurant located in a strip mall near the airport. It's easy to miss, but I'm glad I had a reason to seek it out. Dinner was pretty spectacular, and the owners are two of the nicest people I've met.

Chef-owner Elie Harir is from Israel and makes nearly everything on the menu from scratch. I got to try a variety of items...including falafel balls, Moroccan cigars (meat-filled phyllo), hummus, carrot salad, beet salad, eggplant spread, tabouleh salad, matbocha (Moroccan salsa), Middle Eastern chopped vegetable salad, stuffed eggplant, and kabobs. [see photos after the jump]

My favorite dish was the eggplant spread, which tastes smokey and much more flavorful than any baba ganoush I've ever had. Elie said he grills the eggplants to get that flavor.

The truth is that I liked everything I sampled that evening, and I'm looking forward to going back for dinner soon.


Dips & Spreads Sampler

A lovely dessert

Thinking about my stovetop smoker, I was determined to recreate the eggplant spread at home. While the smoked eggplant dip I came up with is tasty, it's not nearly as good as Elie's version. Surprisingly, the level of smokiness I was hoping for just wasn't there (though, I discovered that the smokiness increases as the dip sits in the fridge). Still, it's a pretty good alternative to the traditional baba ganoush with tahini.

Smoked Eggplant Dip

2 large eggplants (3 pounds total)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, set cut-side down on a tray of a stovetop smoker (spread a little olive oil over the tray to prevent the eggplants from sticking). Smokethe  eggplants for 30 minutes or until very soft. Let cool slightly. (Alternately, you can grill the eggplants over charcoal.)
  • Scoop out the eggplant pulp, transfer it to the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and paprika. Process until well-blended. Taste and season with salt & pepper. Serve with pita chips.

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