Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Spanish Eggplant Dip

When it comes to my dinner, I'm an unadventurous Hungarian. Seasonings don't get much better than garlic and paprika for me. 

My sister-in-law's palate is more evolved. She has whipped up Moroccan cigars, kibbeh, and that other dish I only remember the name of because it sounds like "like my jeans"—lachmagine. Luke's family consume them with relish.

I tried. I really tried. But for my stick-in-the-mud sensibilities, cumin smells unalluring and cilantro tastes soapy. 

Before an outing to Colbeh, I thoroughly analyze the offerings, only to go limp in defeat. On my last excursion, a sympathetic waiter batted away my careful research and kindly steered me towards the sea bass—and it was divine. Culturally neutral in every way.

There is one dish there, however, that I unabashedly polish off. I didn't know what it was, though; I was first introduced to it as a player in the dip trio: hummus, baba ghanouj, and mystery delight. 

I was too chicken to ask the server what it was, but with the help of the online menu, I concluded it was Spanish eggplant dip. 

I hybridized a few recipes to my own specifications, and hit a home run on the first attempt. It tastes good even if it gets messed up. I really can't stop eating it. The joy of it is, there's no reason not to.

I initially oven-roasted, but that takes, like, forever. I went with the pan next. Much quicker, easier, and just as nummy. 

Recipe formed with the help of the internet. Thanks, internet! (It is, yes, spiced identically to the lecsó, and yet tastes deliciously different.)
Spanish Eggplant Dip

1 large eggplant, cubed
1-2 red peppers, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 14 oz. can crushed/diced/chopped tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced (no such thing as too much garlic)
1 tablespoon paprika
not quite a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of hot paprika (depending on preference)*
2-3 shakes red pepper flakes (optional)

sprinkle smoked paprika (optional, but highly recommend)
spoonful of honey (optional)
splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)

1. Toss eggplant in kosher salt. Leave in a colander for 30-60 minutes. (This will draw out any bitterness and some of the liquid). Then rinse the eggplant, getting rid of all that salt. Drain very well. Squelch between fingers to bruise 'em up a bit.

2. Saut
é onion in a little oil for 5-7 minutes on medium flame. Stirring occasionally, you know the drill.

3. Add the garlic, all paprikas, red pepper flakes (if using), stirring, for about a minute.

4. Add eggplant and peppers.
Sauté for minimum 5 minutes. I like it to go a little longer.

5. Add the tomatoes (and honey and/or vinegar, if using).

6. Simmer on low to medium flame (tomato sauce can burn very easily), covered and uncovered, until to desired state of melded-ness.Your call when that is.

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