Grilled Eggplant & Cilantro Dip

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I am not quite sure I have ever fired up my grill in January. The frigid temperatures usually scream “turn on your oven”  instead of “go outside and open your grill.”  (Disclaimer: I’m not quite sure any temps in NC can be considered frigid, but it adds to the dramatic tone here).

However, yesterday, the near 80 degree weather in January can only mean one thing. “Go outside and open your grill!”

As I am eating less meat and more veggie meals these days, I was excited to try some veggie grilling! I found some great recipes in a library book called “30 minute Vegetarian Grilling.”  How convenient.

I had purchased some eggplant and pita bread at the store the other day, and was in the mood to eat both of them….I just wasn’t sure how. I had tried Baba ganoush recently and really enjoyed it….so I went from there.  Luckily, there was a recipe very similar to Baba Ganoush in the veggie grilling book called “grilled eggplant and cilantro pate.”

As always, I change recipes around a bit to suit my needs, taste, or pantry. My recipe is below:

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

1 garlive clove, minced

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste (while mixing, and sprinkled on top of the dip)

pita for serving

Directions:

1. Cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise.

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2. Gently slice the eggplant, checkerboard style (about 1/2 inches deep for each cut).

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3. Combine the olive oil, cayenne, and cumin in a small dish.  Rub or brush the olive oil mixture onto the eggplant halves.

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4. Place the skin side  down to begin. Close top and grill on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until blackened.

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5. Flip the flesh onto the grill. Grill until golden brown and tender.

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6. Let cool for a few minutes. Then begin to peel the skin from the flesh. It should peel back very easily!

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7. Place the eggplant into a blender or food processor.

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8. Blend until smooth.

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9. Add the garlic. Then blend again. IMG_9170

10.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then blend again. IMG_9172

11. While blending the second time, add the lemon juice and olive oil until desired consistency.

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12. Pulse in cilantro (I like my cilantro chunky).

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13. Serve with salt, pepper, and cilantro.

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The grilling gives this dip great smoky flavor (although I think it would also taste wonderful if you baked the eggplant). The flavors of this dip only get better over time as they all meld together in perfect harmony!

cheers and happy evolving!

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