Eggplant Caviar

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please forgive the exalted name of this simple dish. Like its black-eyed pea cousin Texas caviar, “eggplant caviar” has nothing to do with salty sturgeon eggs.

It is so named I suppose for several reasons. You place a dollop of it on a cracker to eat, it has somewhat of a tiny bumpy texture, and the taste is exquisite. It’s not remotely fancy, but one can pretend, right?

Eggplant Caviar

My friend Kathi brought this eggplant caviar to a dinner I hosted this summer and if not for the fact that there were several people to be served, I could easily have eaten the whole batch. (I got my wish the following week when we made another batch together. Amen for recipe testing.)

It’s paleo. It’s vegan. It’s amazing.

It looks like baba ganoush, but without the sesame tahini. Just roasted eggplant, roasted red bell pepper, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

Eggplant Caviar Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2 to 3 cups of dip

Ingredients

  • 2 medium globe eggplants (about 2 pounds or 900 g total)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp high quality olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Roast (or grill) the eggplants: Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). (Alternatively you can grill the eggplant, in which case, prepare the grill for medium high direct heat.)

Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the cut side of the eggplants in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife, in lines about an inch apart. Poke the skin sides of the eggplants with the tines of a fork all over.

Line a sheet pan with foil. Spread olive oil over the bottom of the sheet pan, and sprinkle evenly with salt. Place the eggplants cut side down on the foil lined pan. Place in oven and cook for 35 minutes, or until completely cooked through and very soft.

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If grilling, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and poke the skin sides with the tines of a fork. Brush the cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill cut side down until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. If the eggplants brown too quickly, turn them over and finish the cooking on the skin side.

Once the eggplants have cooled to the touch, peel off the tough outer skin and discard.

2 Roast the red bell pepper: While the eggplant is roasting in step 1, roast the red bell pepper. There are three ways in which you can do this. Coat the bell pepper lightly with olive oil first.

You can put the bell pepper under a broiler in a broiler pan and broil on all sides until the skin is completely blackened. OR you can place the bell pepper directly on the grates of a gas stove and roast over the open flame, until blackened on all sides. OR you can grill on high direct heat, turning, until blackened on all sides.

Once blackened, place the bell pepper in a bowl and cover with a plate to steam for several minutes. Once the bell pepper has cooled to the touch, peel off the charred outer skin. Remove the stem and seeds.

3 Purée garlic, roasted eggplant and bell pepper: Place garlic, peeled eggplant, peeled roasted bell pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

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4 Mix with oil, vinegar, salt, basil, pepper: Transfer the eggplant mixture from the food processor into a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, minced basil, and pepper.

Serve with crackers, pita chips, crostini toasts, or for gluten-free option celery or cucumber sticks.

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Links:

Eggplant Caviar (Caviar d'Aubergine) from David Lebovitz

Russian Eggplant Caviar from Sassy Radish

Eggplant Caviar

Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • Lara

    I made this for the first time yesterday and it is indeed yummy. I added a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika to the cut sides of the eggplant before roasting them – it adds a bit more of a smokey flavour. I blended the eggplant in a food processor as the recipe instructs but next time I will combine the ingredients by hand for a more chunky texture. The recipe makes quite a generous amount – you could easily halve the amount if you are making this for just two people.

  • Christina

    First, I’m wondering if Shaio means it has to be canned? Or just put in a jar and stored? I could go for storing some because it was tasty. I made it for dinner with rice and salad and it felt very healthy and satisfying. My husband was okay with it, but I think one is either a fan or eggplant or is not. And considering that I really seem to like eggplant, I have to recommend this dish, and I’ll adding it in to the circuit on vegetarian night. I probably should have made some dal to go with it.

  • Alison

    I also love eggplant, but surprisingly haven’t yet tried baba ganoush. How different are the two dips?

  • Twinks

    Eggplant is such a wonderful vegetable… I make an appetizer using tahini (sesame seed paste) garlic cloves, and lemon juice. Same process as above but different mixtures. The best part of this is serving it with a BIG drizzle of olive oil and a BIG sprinkle of paprika or chili powder.

  • Shaio

    This is something traditional for the cuisine of the Balkan region. I’m from Bulgaria and it’s very typical for the country – it’s usually put in jars for the winter, but it could be eaten fresh. You can check in Wikipedia for “Kyopolou”.

    The recipe of my grandmother is very similar:
    Roast the eggplants and peppers (she does it on fire, which gives them amazing smoky aroma), peel and mash them, put some oil and store in jars. When you want to eat it, you put some garlic and vinegar in it. And on the strange (but tasty) end of the spectrum – substitute vinegar with yogurt. It’s quite interesting :)

    There is something similar in the region called “Ljutenica” (again you can check it in Wikipedia). It’s basically the same, but the ratio of pepper to eggplant is inverted (it’s mostly peppers).

    As with such meals, there are many variations (each region is different) in both dishes – some put tomatoes, others carrots, onions, etc.

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