Friday, August 27, 2010

Eggplant Parsley Dip with Homemade Pita Chips

I love eggplant. It's a delicious, meaty vegetable that's versatile and found in many varieties of cuisines: Italian, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Middle-Eastern, Thai... Sometimes I'll forgo preparing a dish with eggplant because I've been taught to slice it thinly, sprinkle with salt and weight the slices down to help extract the bitter juice. I'm generally not a patient cook, so this extra step is sometimes a turn-off. I learned a tip from Alton Brown, when I had the Food Network Channel. Supposedly, the female eggplant is less bitter and has fewer seeds than its male counterpart. How do you tell the difference? Look at their navel. Male eggplant have oblong navels while females have round ones. I happened across one of each at the CSA last week:

Female and Male Eggplant
But I used them together in the same dish so it's not easy to tell whether there was any impact on flavor. My Saveur magazine focused on Greek cooking and so I attempted Melintzanosalata (Eggplant and Parsley Dip). Melintzano is close to the Italian Melanzana...interested in word origin, here is what I found on

"The ancient Romans did not know about eggplants, so the word melanzana is not of Latin origin. It appears that the introduction of eggplants in the Mediterranean area is due to the Arabs, who got to know it in India. The word mela, meaning apple, and the Arab name of the plant, badingian led to melanzana. For centuries, melanzana had a bad reputation and it was even thought to cause madness. Its name was interpreted to mean mela insana, meaning both insane and not healthy. Such bad reputation comes from the fact that melanzana belongs to the Solanaceae family. It does not cause madness, but it contains the alkaloid solanin, and should not be eaten raw. Even undercooked, eggplant does not taste good." But well cooked, it's delicious!

Roasted eggplant

2 lbs eggplant (about 2 large)
1/2 cup evoo
1 green bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Toasted pita for serving
Eggplant Draining

1. Heat the broiler. Pierce the eggplants with a fork in several places and broil in the oven until slightly charred and soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Peel eggplants; scoop out most of the seeds. Chop the soft eggplant and drain in a strainer for 30 minutes.

2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add peppers; cook for 10 min. Add jalapenos and continue cooking until golden brown, about 7 minutes longer. Transfer to bowl of food processor along with reserved eggplant, remaining oil, parsley, vinegar and garlic. Process until slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Chill to meld flavors. Serve with toasted pita.

**Cook's note: I would add the garlic to the skillet a few minutes after the jalapeno next time for a milder flavor, or use 1 clove minced.


Homemade Pita Chips

12 baby whole wheat pitas
5 Tbsp olive oil
Any other spices or herbs for flavoring

Preheat oven to 375. Halve the baby pitas so you have to small round disks. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and any other seasoning. I used paprika and thyme for one batch, dried parsley, onion and garlic for another. Cook for about 8 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown. Some will cook faster than others...all are yummy!

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea there were male and female eggplants! I will check it out next time I go to the grocery store :-)