Adapted from The New Jewish Table by Ellen Kassoff Gray and Todd Gray
Todd: Roasting really rounds out the natural sweetness of eggplant, whose seeds have a caviar-like appearance and texture, in my opinion. This purée with roasted garlic and lemon juice is like baba ghanouj, but without the tahini. It's just so simple and fresh—a perfect spring starter.
3 medium eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil (use a good quality to mix into the caviar)
3 garlic cloves, roasted or fresh and not peeled
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ground smoked paprika for dusting pitas
Roast the eggplants. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pierce each eggplant in several places (use a fork or skewer) and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle the eggplants with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast until the skins are blistered and the flesh is soft—about 60 minutes. (If your garlic is not already roasted, add it to the oven during the last 20 minutes of baking time.) Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the eggplants cool for 20 minutes. Keep the oven on.
Make the dip. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh from the skins. Transfer to the container of a food processor fitted with a blade and process until smooth. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine.
Makes about 4 cups dip
Make pita chips. Cut the pitas into wedges. Arrange on a baking sheet and place in the oven until lightly toasted, golden, and crispy—15 to 20 minutes. Lightly sprinkle the pitas with the smoked paprika.
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