This wonderful eggplant dip is one of our favorite party starters. You make it up a day ahead, and it just keeps getting better!
Our eggplant choice for this dish is a long, lean variety named "Ichiban." We can't always find it in stores, so have taken to growing our own. If you have to use the Italian, chubby variety, be sure to cut it in half first and scoop out the center with all the seeds. You will probably have to start with a much larger eggplant than one pound....
1 pound eggplant(s)
4 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
Kosher salt/black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbs roasted pine nuts
roasted pepper flakes
pita wedges or chips
Start a medium-hot grill, with the usual cool/hot configuration. Heat the grill, and oil it with a little peanut or canola oil.
Pierce the eggplants with a fork, and set over the coals, turning often. They will cook about 15 mins for little Ichibans, about 45 for full-sized Italian eggplants. Remove from the grill when soft to the touch (and slightly mushy), and cool. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh, avoiding seeds, if necessary.
In a food process or blender, combine garlic, lemon, parsley, cumin, salt, pepper. Process until fairly fine. Add the eggplant and tahini and process - then slowly pour the olive oil down the feed tube, until it forms a thick paste.
Place in a covered container and refrigerate. To serve, place in a dip bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, pine nuts, and/or red pepper flakes.