Spicy eggplant caviar
This is a zingy and light version of the ubiquitous Mediterranean roasted eggplant salad, known as mutabal in the Middle East and melizanosalata in Greece. While the eggplant may be grilled on a stove top or over a charcoal fire to obtain a smoky flavor, it may also be roasted in the oven, as in this easy recipe.
1 large eggplant or 2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound or 450 g.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
optional: 1 small cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (400 F, 205 C).
Rinse and dry the eggplant and prick it with a fork in two or three places. A word of caution: Do not omit this step. I forgot once, and when I opened the oven door the eggplant exploded and stuck to me like napalm, leaving me with second-degree burns.
Place the eggplant in a baking dish. Bake for one hour.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. The eggplant will shrink into itself a bit. When it is cool enough to handle, slice it in half and scoop out the flesh. Make sure to include the brown bits close to the skin and any juice that drips into the baking pan, for this is where the most intense flavor is found.
Pulse briefly in a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse again. Do not overdo — it’s best to retain some texture. If you are using a cayenne pepper, crumble it in a paper towel to protect your hands and stir in.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serves 2.
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