Recently, we hosted a dinner party for 8, held outdoors and almost everything on the menu was grilled. Including the appetizers and dessert.
The formula was simple – invite a group of guests that like to eat and drink, can converse on a wide range of topics and prepare a meal that is relatively low maintenance. I will explore this over the next few posts, with recipes, thoughts and pictures.
First up, an appetizer – Grilled Eggplant Dip
Grilled Eggplant Dip (can be done a day ahead of time) – This dish is a hit as an appetizer. The smokiness of the grill combined with some smoked paprika gives this baba ghanoush-like recipe some extra flavor.
Ingredients (will serve 4-6 people)
- 1 large eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise 1-inch thick (Leave skin on, it will come off easily after the slices have been grilled)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped for the food processor (or blender)
- ¼ cup tahini **(see below)
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil for brushing before grilling
- 2 tbls of olive oil (for the food processor)
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (about ½ tablespoon if using dried oregano)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
- Jar of roasted red peppers, chopped for garnish. (You can roast your own red peppers, but since this is “Cooking Secrets for Men”, we’ll go with the expedient ingredient)
- Pita chips or pita bread (heated briefly on the grill) for dipping
** Tahini is sesame seed butter, so you could reasonably substitute any nut butter if you don’t have or don’t want to buy Tahini. It won’t taste the same, but it’ll be edible! It will keep for a long time in your pantry anywhere from 6 months to a year.
- Heat a grill to medium.
- Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the eggplant until charred on the first side, about 2- 3 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until tender, another 3 minutes.
- Let the eggplant cool to the touch and transfer to a cutting board.
- Remove the skin from the eggplant and put the eggplant flesh in a food processor.
- Add the chopped garlic, tahini (or substitute), Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the lemon zest, oregano and smoked paprika.
- Process until smooth and thick.
- Add salt to taste.
- Move to a serving bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Drizzle some olive oil over the dip.
- Top with the diced peppers and the chopped parsley.
- Serve with warm pita bread or pita chips.