Saturday, October 3, 2009

How to GRILL WHOLE EGGPLANTS for Eggplant Dip - Steven Raichlen

Hello Hello Hello...

This was part of my ALL VEGETARIAN MEAL I blogged about earlier in the week (you can find that post by clicking HERE). I served this with some grilled pita bread, and had it ready as an appetizer when my guests arrived. Always nice to have something to snack on while waiting for the good stuff to come off the grill (of course, for my wife and Herme, they were only eating vegetarian food, so for them, there was no good stuff to come, but I opinionatedly digress...). Actually, all jokes aside, I was very happy with this dish. Very very easy, lots of presentation potential and this was gobbled up fast. Every bit was eaten, and my guests raved (even the carnivorous folks like me enjoyed it a lot).

Here's what I did...

During one of my trips to the local farmer's market, I bought a couple of eggplants. I have never bought them before, but my farmer buddy was very helpful. Eggplant comes in two colors, the purple that you all know, and also this white version. I asked what the difference was, and I was told the white has a little more substantial bitter taste. When I explained what I was going to do, the farmer recommended white. OK, what do I know, I bought the white. the prep for the grilling is to slice thin pieces of garlic...

then cut little slices into the eggplant and shove as many of the little slices into the eggplant as possible...

Grill away, turning several times until all sides are nicely charred, and the meat is very soft... about a half hour total, over direct hot grilling.

It shrivels as it cooks, don't worry, it is supposed to.

I am sorry, I got caught up in making the dish that I forgot to take any more photos of the process. But basically, scrape the meat out of the skin, and put it into a food processor.

Add (in descending order of volume)

TAHINI, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt, Black Pepper and paprika.

Tahini was a new ingredient to me. I found it in the exotic foreign foods section of my underpriced grocery store (the expensive section). The bottle shown cost about $8, and I was hesitant to buy an ingredient that I was probably not going to use soon. the recipe called for 3 tablespoons, which left easily 9/10ths of the jar full. I wanted to stay true to the recipe, and I was hoping to like this dish and make again, so I sprung for it. In doing a little research, I found out that this is a paste made from ground sesame seeds, usually found in middle eastern dishes, like humus.

OK, having learned a little bit, found something new, I pulsed the food processor with the ingredients till it looked like a dip.

then you stick it in the refrigerator if you want to serve chilled (as I did), or serve warm if you prefer.

Part of the challenge was to make a vegetarian meal without just serving a fancy-dancy salad. I wanted to use lettuce as a garnish only to make a little joke (and again, if you have to explain, is it really a joke?). Don't know why I added the lemon wedges other than color and a bit of panache.

I grilled up 4 whole wheat pita breads, cut them into wedges (just brush a little butter on each side of the bread and let toast for just a few minutes each side). I put everything onto a pizza stone for the presentation. Thought it looked pretty good.

We all enjoyed the dip (be polite, don't double dip (or at least don't get caught double dipping)), along with the welcome cocktail of Bocce Balls that you can find by clicking HERE. I thought I made plenty, but it was very popular with all four of us, and it was very quickly all gone. I highly recommend trying this.

It was very easy, most difficult part was the little slices of garlic. And once you do the first one, you find out even that step is very easy. the taste was terrific. Sure enough, I sampled a little of the tahini, and that taste really shown through. Unless you are such a great cook that you can make your own to save money, I highly recommend not skipping that ingredient. It really was one of the strongest flavors of this dish. Only change I am going to make next time is to make more. This was very popular.

Holiday season is coming up and we get invited to several little cocktail events where we bring a side dish to share. This will be on my list of things to take. It was excellent, and makes a great presentation piece (with everything on the stone, or on a fancy cutting board) that would look great on a holiday table.

I will be making this again with no changes, and this recipe gets a huge 5 of a possible 5.

This recipe can be found on page 364 of Steven Raichlen's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. The book includes three pages of detailed instructions, including lots of photographs and a simple easy to follow recipe. Click HERE to go to and read other people's reviews or to order. I just found out they have discounted the price, new copies are available for less than $10 and used copies for less than $5!

R, CAG and G... Good Talk


  1. You are on Steve's payroll, aren't you? I was in a cooking contest once, where a woman coated a salmon fillet in tahini and took third.. I wouldn't have eaten it with a gun to my head!

  2. This looks very good. I'll have to remember this recipe once Santa brings me the cookbook. And by the way, the pizza stone presentation: "Devilishly clever"

    and LOL BD

  3. Eggplant dip sounds elegant and delicious. Well done!

  4. Grilled eggplant is fabulous. Another great way, is to slice the eggplant, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt, grill on both sides. Easy and delicious!

    Your eggplant dip looks really good. I have no doubt that it is quite tasty.

  5. Love the table setting. Are they dark pink or red? The camera sometimes alters colors.

  6. My Fall breeze is probably only slightly better than your Fall breeze-Don't forget I live in Florida :-) Now, as for the shrimp?? We definitely have plenty!!!

  7. Oooooo reminds me of baba ghanoush. Good stuff! I could eat a boatload of it. Tahini paste is expensive but awesome. You should use it to make some hummus. It goes great with pita bread as well.

  8. Reminds me of baba ghanoush, too! I'm not the hugest eggplant fan...there's something about the texture, but I do like baba ghanoush. Your version is just like hummus, only you've replaced the chick peas with eggplant - I'm sure it's delicious!

  9. I love the slashed eggplant with garlic thins! Reminds me of a clove-studded orange! Looks really nice

  10. Looks great. I usually grow the white eggplant as I've never had one with bitter skin. Ever wonder why those big black things in the store are called eggplant - cause they are related to the one you used that looks like an egg - hence the name.

  11. Your dip sounds delicious!Great idea to stuff them with garlic :)

  12. Wow....that does look good! Anything infused with chunks of garlic is going to be a hit for me though! Love eggplant....haven't seen the white variety here though. Intesresting. Looks like you have a great site going here. Just dropped by from Katy's site and you intrigued me with your various comments over the past while. I can see you have a zest for cooking, finding colours, savoury tastes and textures with your entrees. Most enjoy sharing your discoveries...I can so relate. Have a great week ahead!

  13. You did it. From start to finish, a meal that would welcome anyone to your table. I hope you are having a great day.

  14. I've never seen white eggplant before! I'd be interested to taste it side-by-side with a purple eggplant and see how they compare.