Sarah and Howard visited us last August. Since then communication with “Uncle Howard”, who currently writes from Backnang, Germany, has been strictly via email. “Dips have been my thing lately. I made some absolutely fabulous zaalouk (moroccan aubergine [eggplant] & tomato dip) last week….” I continue to appreciate How’s adventurous gastronomic spirit, superseded only by his love of language, music, and travel, so I thought of him and his recipe for Zaalouk when I saw a beautiful aubergine at an organic farm stand last week. That plus garden tomatoes that are withstanding low overnight temps has resulted in our version of his “dip.”
Aubergine and Tomato Spread
1 very large aubergine (eggplant) – 16 oz. or a little over
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra
1 garlic clove, minced
5 plum ripe (plum) tomatoes finely chopped (peel and seed them if you must, but I don’t and call it “rustic.”)
1 teaspoon honey
1 small banana pepper, seeded and minced. (Some wear gloves when handling hot peppers.)
3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped finely. (I used even portions of parsley, basil, mint, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.)
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (substitute lemon juice if you like – I haven’t been able to get organic ones for weeks.)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F (as in 200 C). Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and cut criss-cross slashes into the flesh. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roast skin side down in the oven until tender (40-45 minutes).
2. While the eggplant is roasting, heat a saute pan over a medium (flame) and add the chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil Add the garlic and minced pepper and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, honey, 2/3 of the herbs. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes until the mixture is a thick sauce.
3. Scoop out the eggplant flesh and lightly mash it with a fork. Add to the sauce and stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepperSimmer for 5 minutes, then leave to cool.
Enjoy this taste of late summer!