Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pureed and Simple

I've been counting down to the opening of the local farmers' market (three or four weeks, I believe!), and in doing so, I've also been working my way through the produce I put away last year... slowly.

(Actually, I really need to clean out the pantry and find what's left... and start using it. But that's for another day and another post.)

One of the items I thawed from the freezer over the weekend was a small container of roasted eggplant pulp. I really wasn't sure how it would hold up after being frozen, but it turned out just fine for the purpose I had in mind. And while the idea of making a small batch of baingan bhartha tempted me, I decided that the warm, almost summery weather called for a much simpler dish: a pureed eggplant dish into which I could dip some of those still-soft and tender homemade pita breads.

When I first got hold of Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, one of the recipes that had jumped out at me was for an eggplant and pine nut puree, an easy dish I've come to love since it offers a refreshing twist on baba ganoush. But when I looked over the recipe this afternoon, I found I wouldn't be able to make it as written, not having pine nuts, fresh parsley, and a couple of other items.

So... time to improvise!

The eggplant pulp served as the first layer in my little food processor, while I sliced and sauteed local garlic in safflower oil, adding ground cumin, coriander, and a hint of garam masala. I tossed in some walnuts and a bit of salt, then added the sauteed mixture to the pulp. I drizzled the ingredients with some tangy pomegranate molasses, popped the lid onto the processor, and let the magic button do its thing.

After just a few minutes' work (overall, not just pureeing the mix), I had a little dish full of flavorful spicy eggplant puree, just begging for pita:

While chopped fresh cilantro would have been the ideal topping for the dip, I decided to use what I actually had on hand: fresh mustard greens from a pot by the window. Nice contrast!

Despite not having much oil in the mix, this dip ended up tasting very rich, so I only worked my way through half of that small bowl (it's only about 4" in diameter and not quite as deep, in case you wondered). I guess I'll have the rest for dinner tomorrow night!

It's just that simple.

Eggplant-Walnut Puree

Though the original idea came from Local Flavors and the tradition of baba ganoush, I really just threw together what I had. Feel free to improvise based on your own pantry contents!

2 tsp safflower oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c walnuts
1 c roasted eggplant puree (fresh or frozen, thawed)
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or tender young greens for garnish

In small skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic and saute until golden. Add spices and walnuts and saute for another minute.

In small food processor, combine spice and walnut mixture with eggplant puree. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Puree.

Spoon into serving dish and top with chopped herbs or greens. Serve with pita or crackers.

Makes 1 1/2 c dip


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