I grow a lot of eggplant this time of year.
It’s overwhelming really.
Because eggplant isn’t for everyone.
Or at least it isn’t for everyone in my household. [Ed. note: Unless I trick them into eating it.]
I happen to love it.
But I’ve been looking for new things to do with it. One reason: I have a lot. The other: Our household has had to eliminate dairy and eggs from our diet at least for the near term. So one of my many summer projects involves figuring out how to do this. It’s a little more complicated than I had imagined, but we’re muddling through it.
For now, that means no cheese with my evening glass of wine. [Ed note: I also happen to love cheese.]
Some might feel defeatist about this, but I am not one of those folks. And fortunately, eggplant has stepped in to fill this so-called cocktail hour snack void. One of my favorite French food writers, Clotilde Dusoulier, has a wonderful recipe for Eggplant and Black Olive Caviar in her The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from my Parisian Kitchen. It’s a great, savory spread for crackers or flatbread, and Dusoulier says you can even use it in sandwiches or scooped over a bowl of rice.
I am thinking about cheese a little bit less these days, thanks in part to this tangy treat.
Eggplant and Black Olive Caviar
from Clotilde Dusoulier’s The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from my Parisian Kitchen
2 lbs small eggplants
2 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers (I used a couple more than this)
12 brine-cured black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Roast the eggplants a few hours in advance or the day before. Use a knife to pierce three or four slits in each eggplant and slip the garlic slivers into the slits. I had trouble doing this, so I roasted the eggplant without the garlic slivers and it still turned out fine.
2. Place the whole eggplants on a lightly oiled baking sheet and insert in a cold oven. Turn oven to 400 degrees and roast the eggplants, flipping them halfway through, until completely soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside to cool completely. If roasting the day before, put the eggplants in an airtight container and refrigerate.
3. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and scoop out the flesh and garlic cloves with a spoon to get as much flesh as possible. It’s okay if a little of the skin comes with it. Put the eggplant and garlic in a food processor or blender.
4. Add the olives, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, a pinch of salt, a good grind of black pepper and a dash (or two) of hot sauce. Process until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Your end result should look something like this (crackers and rose not included):
Click here for other eggplant recipes from NYT Cooking.