I have to say, David Lebovitz's cookbook My Paris Kitchen has really be knocking it out of the park. Everything I've made from that book has been terrific - especially impressive because I haven't even started in on the desserts yet, and those are supposed to be Mr. Lebovitz's specialty. I was actually inspired to make this recipe after reading Deb's post on smoky eggplant dip over on Smitten Kitchen the other day. I love eggplant but I'm a little...nervous when it comes to cooking it. It's so disappointing when you end up with an eggplant dish that squeaks between your teeth (a product of undercooking) or one that is so sodden with olive oil that you feel your arteries closing up as you chew (sometimes the case with fried eggplant). Really what you want is a silky texture and the subtle taste of the eggplant itself. And maybe some herbs and lemon. Which is what this recipe gives you.
You take two large globe eggplants and stick them straight over the gas burners on your stove for 5-10 minutes, turning them a few times to get all sides evenly toasty. You then trim off the top and split the eggplants down the middle, placing them cut-side down on a baking sheet slicked with oil and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Then you bake them for 40 minutes at 375F.
Once the eggplant has cooked down into a soft, squishy version of its former self, you scrape the insides away from the skin and stir them together with some salt, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, Aleppo pepper, parsley, and olive oil. Then you sprinkle it with some za'atar and drizzle on a bit more olive oil and inhale most of it with some toasted pita wedges.
It's not the most beautiful dish in the world - it's smashed up eggplant after all - but so flavorful and delicious. I can't wait to make this again and to keep on experimenting with recipes from My Paris Kitchen (perhaps the recipe for hummus next?). Happy Thursday, everyone!