This eggplant puree dip or spread with yogurt dressing and walnuts is a Turkish recipe that will be a sure hit at your next social gathering.
- 4 large eggplants (3 to 4 pounds)
- Juice of 2 lemons, plus more to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, green sprouts removed, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, if needed
- About 1 cup yogurt dressing (recipe below)
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, mint, or cilantro
- 2 jalapeno peppers, very finely minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin, toasted (optional)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, for garnish
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 2 cups thick yogurt (see Notes)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons minced garlic (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill (optional)
- In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt. Fold in the garlic or herbs if desired.
For a smoky taste, grill the eggplants under the broiler, turning often, or cook them slowly on a stovetop cast-iron griddle over medium heat, turning them from time to time, until they are uniformly tender, about 20 minutes. You also may prick them with a fork in a few places, place them on a baking sheet, and bake them in a 400-degree F oven until they are soft throughout, about 1 hour. No matter which technique you choose, remember to turn the eggplants occasionally until they are very soft.
Using tongs, put the eggplants in a colander or a perforated drainer tray. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
Carefully remove the skins and put the eggplant pulp in a strainer to drain for 10 minutes. Discard any large seed pockets; they are bitter and add an unpleasant texture to the creamy eggplant puree. To keep the eggplant white – a point of pride in Turkey – soak it briefly in water to which you’ve added the lemon juice, or squeeze the juice directly over the eggplant. After a few minutes, drain the pulp and squeeze it dry.
In a large bowl, coarsely puree or mash the eggplant with a potato masher or a wooden spoon.
If the garlic is strong or “hot,” warm the oil over low heat in a smell sauté pan, add the garlic, and cook for a minute or two to remove the bite. Add to the eggplant pulp.
Stir in the yogurt dressing, herb, jalapeños, and cumin, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in a serving bowl or on a platter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts and parsley and with crumbled feta if you like. Serve with warm pita bread.
*Recipe adapted from Mediterranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein