Armenian Blistered Eggplant Dip
Traditional Armenian barbecue, or "khorovats," features an array of meats and vegetables roasted over an open fire. In the author's family, whole eggplants are blistered until they collapse into themselves, then are cut down the middle tableside, whisked with aromatic ingredients and served as a side dish. This recipe riffs on that tradition for a crowd-pleasing dip. Although there's less fire involved, the vegetable still shines.
Small eggplants are preferable to large, as they tend to have fewer seeds. If you use large eggplants and the texture of seeds bothers you, discard them during the peeling process. This recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the mayonnaise and doubling the olive oil. Any separation is normal, and even good -- it means plenty of delicious roasted eggplant juices have been retained.
The dip's flavor is pretty garlicky, so if you're garlic-averse, start with less and add more, if desired.
Storage Notes: The dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
4 small eggplants (3 pounds total)
2 to 3 cloves garlic minced or finely grated
1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more as needed
1 teaspoon ground sumac
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the racks in upper and lower thirds.
Pierce each eggplant lengthwise with a knife, then place directly on the higher rack in the oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack lower to catch any drippings. Roast the eggplants for 30 to 40 minutes, adjusting the order of individual eggplants with tongs halfway through to ensure even cooking. Once done, the eggplants should be soft when touched with tongs, and their skin should be blistered and crackerlike.
Transfer the eggplants to a wire rack for 20 minutes. Halve them lengthwise and let cool for 10 additional minutes.
On a large cutting board, scrape the eggplant flesh off the skin -- it should separate easily. Roughly chop the flesh into 1-inch pieces, reserving as much of the eggplants' juices as possible. Transfer the eggplant flesh and juices to a medium bowl.
Add the garlic, cilantro, oil, mayonnaise, dill, salt, sumac and pepper and whisk vigorously until well combined and the mixture reaches dip-like consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired. Serve at room temperature or cold, with pita chips and crudités.
Serves 12 (makes about 3½ cups)
Nutrition | Calories: 50; Total Fat: 3 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 190 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 1 g.