Summer vegetables are on their way, ushering in a new set of ingredients to familiarize yourself with before the summer starts. One of summer’s most abundant and delicious vegetables is definitely the eggplant. Eggplants come in many shapes and sizes, but most people are most familiar with the traditional eggplant that you consistently can find in the super market all year long. You may also recognize the Japanese eggplant, a smaller and skinnier version. I really like this particular variety because of its size and ease of preparation. They are the perfect size for grilling, and they have fewer seeds.
When you are preparing eggplant, it is important to remember that these vegetables contain an incredible amount of water. Sometimes when you cook eggplant, it can seem soggy and watery, but this is because it has not been prepared properly. The best trick is to lightly salt all of the pieces of eggplant and to allow the salt to draw the excess water out. You may also set another bowl on top of the pieces of eggplant while they slowly extrude out their water. This will also allow the weight of the bowl to press the excess water out too. Once finished, slightly wash off the excess salt before cooking.
According to recent studies, researchers have found that the chemicals inside the eggplant are extremely beneficial for your eye health because it helps lower intraocular pressure. This is especially helpful in individuals suffering from glaucoma.
Roasted Eggplant Dip with Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olives
- 2 large eggplants
- 8 cloves garlic
- Fresh thyme, chopped
- Red chili flakes
- Kosher salt
- ¼ tablespoon cumin
- 1/8 tablespoon coriander
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice/zest
- 8 oz. feta cheese, drained
- 6 oz. pitted kalamata olives, chopped
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- Cut eggplants in half, lightly score with knife and insert garlic cloves inside eggplant.
- Drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle heavily with salt and pepper, red chili flakes, and fresh thyme.
- Place onto a baking sheet and put into 375-degree oven for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Eggplant should be extremely soft to the touch, almost mushy.
- Allow eggplant to cool slightly before handling. Scrape all of the insides into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until extremely smooth. Add cumin and coriander. You may also add a tablespoon of olive oil to achieve this smooth texture while pulsing. Add in the zest and juice of lemon.
- Add feta cheese and olives to food processor and pulse two or three more times. Allow cheese and olives to remain slightly chunky.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with thinly sliced basil and serve with freshly cut vegetables, crostinis and warm pita bread.