Friends often ask where I get ideas for my recipes. I get inspiration from all over. From something that catches my eye at Whole Foods or the Green Market in Union Square, to something I fall in love with at a restaurant. This recipe was inspired by a dish I had several months ago and couldn't get enough of; an eggplant dip with crisp flat bread from one of my favorite restaurants, The Dutch in Soho, NYC. Andrew Carmellini is an owner and also has Locanda Verde in Tribeca. I love both places and would happily eat there at least once a week if I had the time. Anyway, the eggplant dip from The Dutch is amazing and I make sure to get it every time I go. It tastes fresh, rich and creamy but not heavy. I feel like I am eating something that's good because it's made with yogurt.
I decided that I wanted to try and make my own eggplant dip, using the one from The Dutch as inspiration. This is my interpretation and I can only hope it could be in the same league as the original. Here's how I made it.
1 large eggplant
6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt; I like one from Oikos
4 cloves of roasted garlic
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
whole wheat pita bread
First, roast the eggplant by washing it and patting it dry. Poke holes all over the skin using a fork. This will let the steam escape from the eggplant. Set it in an oven at 400 degrees and roast for 30-40 minutes until the eggplant is soft. You can roast the garlic at the same time this way, just allow an extra 10-15 minutes. No need to wrap either in aluminum foil. Just setting both on a baking sheet will do. Roasting both the eggplant and garlic will give the dip great flavor, balancing out the cool yogurt quite nicely.
Once the eggplant is cooked, cut it in half and scrape out the flesh (including seeds) and set aside. Next squeeze out four cloves of the roasted garlic. You can use more if you want a stronger garlic flavor in the dip.
Then using a food processor to make the dip, add the yogurt, mint, eggplant, garlic, lemon juice and zest and olive oil and puree until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, mix and taste. Add more if the dip needs more seasoning.
I like to eat the dip with warm whole wheat pita bread and carrot sticks. I've also eaten the dip straight out of the bowl with a spoon because I like it so much. I think it could also be good over pasta for a cold pasta salad. Or as a spread on a sandwich.