Today is all about the eggplant. Or, as they call it in Jamaica, Purple Garden Egg. (MOST ADORABLE NAME EVER) I know there are loads of people out there that do eggplant parmesan, or layered in lasagna, or just straight up grilled on the bbq, but for us, it’s baba ganoush, all day, every day.
The best part about this, is that once you process the eggplant, you can freeze it in small batches and just pull out enough to make dip whenever your heart desires. Eggplant doesn’t have a particularly long shelf life when fresh, so this is definitely a huge bonus since we like to do regular falafal feasts- with all the trimmings- during the colder months. Having said that, I don’t make and freeze the actual dip, just the smoked and roasted eggplant flesh. I find the texture gets a bit grainy and weird if frozen in its completed stage. I also know that not everyone has a massive smoker like we do, but have no fear, with a bbq and a cast iron pan, you can rig one up in a couple of minutes! I’ll tell you how at the bottom of this post.
Remove the stem end (be careful- eggplant have very sharp spines on the stalk) and then slice it in half lengthwise.Rub cut side with a bit of oil & season with salt & pepper. Roast (Cut side down) at 350 for about 20 min, or until beginning to soften. Remove from oven & smoke (cut side UP) for an additional 20 min. Scrape out pulp, blend until fairly smooth, and freeze in individual size portions in a freezer bag. I do about 2 cups per bag and that makes a nice size dip.
2 cups roasted & smoked eggplant pulp (fully thawed)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
**optional sprinkle of chili flakes or cayenne powder
Blend everything together & serve cold with bread for dipping
If you don’t have a smoker, you can skip that step and simply add a tbsp of smoked paprika to the pulp when you’re blending the dip. You can also make a small smoker by lighting chips in a cast iron pan. Put your eggplant in the bbq, (cut side UP) light wood chips in a hot, dry, cast iron pan and place it beside the eggplant & close the bbq lid. Leave it for 20-30 min and then remove & allow to cool before bagging for the freezer.