Last week I needed dried cherries for a recipe I was working on and decided since the weather was nice that I would walk down to Sahadis on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn Heights to pick some up. Sahadis is a Middle Eastern market that sells pretty much everything. I don’t allow myself to go very often because every time I do I end up with about 10 items more then I intended to buy (I have no restraint). This trip was no exception - I found myself leaving with hummus, peppers, Spanish cheese, raw pecans, dark chocolate covered pretzel balls, and of course the dried cherries. I stopped in Damascus Bakery afterwards for some fluffy pita bread to go with my hummus (and 6 pitas only cost 1 DOLLAR I couldn’t believe it, that was a dollar well spent) and then headed back to work.
Dinner that night ended up being a wonderful hodgepodge of Middle Eastern foods and the best part of the meal was an eggplant dip I made. Eggplant dip is one of my favorite things because it tastes richer than it really is – you feel like its an indulgent unhealthy dip but really your eating a vegetable! I made mine by roasting a halved eggplant (and some garlic) that I covered with rosemary, cumin, and red pepper flakes until the eggplant was soft as can be. I combined it with some olive oil and other spices to make the perfect dip for slathering on warm pits with hummus.
Roasted Eggplant Dip
Recipe adapted from Gourmet
1 small to medium sized eggplant, halved long ways
2 cloves of unpeeled garlic (or more if you love roasted garlic)
¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne/red pepper flakes or other spicy pepper flake
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon parsley
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat over to 375 degrees. Place halved eggplant in a baking dish cut side up. Make shallow half inch incisions all over cut side of the eggplant with the tip of a paring knife. Add unpeeled garlic to the baking dish. Sprinkle eggplant with the rosemary, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Bake until garlic and eggplant are very tender (both took about 30 minutes for me but it may be longer.) If the garlic appears to be cooking faster remove it from the pan and continue cooking the eggplant until fork tender.
Transfer eggplant to a cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle. Scrape out flesh with a spoon and place in a bowl with the garlic cloves. Add parsley and remaining olive oil, then stir until combines. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with warmed pita or baguette slices.