I spent most of my kitchen-time last week testing ice cream recipes, none of which were successful. I had high hopes for a ripe market cantaloupe and buttermilk ice cream, but the results were consistently too icy. I moved on to a doughnut peach base, swirled with rivulets of deeply purple blackberry quick jam. But the flavor was always too muted; doughnut peaches might be better for eating juicily, messily over the kitchen sink than stirred into ice cream.
Now I have three new ice cream recipe ideas burning a hole in my pocket (did I mention I really love ice cream?), but I needed a break–ice cream can be finicky to make, it’s time consuming to test, and it makes me grumpy-pants when I get it wrong. And August is not a month for finicky, time-consuming recipes.
Instead, I went in the opposite direction: a (relatively) quick, savory dip, starring a deep-summer vegetable.
It’s a simple recipe. I had everything but the eggplant in the pantry already. It would be perfect for a party, as you can make it a day ahead, and store it in the fridge. Smear it onto various carbohydrates, or use it as a vehicle for even more vegetables. A shower of fresh parsley or cilantro wouldn’t go amiss.
This weekend, the Frenchman and I are getting out of the city, and traveling here. I’m planning to swim, to walk, to farm stand-shop, and cook, and also pet some baby sheep. I’m planning on not worrying about a thing, at least for 48 hours. I’m going to leave my laptop at home. I hope, wherever you are, you will do the same.
Makes about 1.5 cups
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 small white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt, black pepper
- the juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 tablespoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon za’atar
- 1/2 teaspoon harissa
1. Heat the oven to 375F.
2. Cut the eggplant in half. Pour a measure of olive oil onto the face of each half, and use your fingers to distribute it evenly. (Do this quickly! The eggplant soaks up the olive oil like a sponge.) Rub olive oil all over the outside of each eggplant half, too. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto each face, and then place each half facedown on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
3. Roughly chop the onion. Toss the onion, along with the garlic cloves, with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Move to the baking sheet.
4. Roast the eggplant, onion, and garlic for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and let everything cool for about 10 minutes, or until you can handle the vegetables without burning yourself.
5. Use a spoon to scoop out the (now soft) eggplant. Move the eggplant (everything but the stem and skin) to the bowl of a food processor. Add the roasted onion and garlic. Add a drizzle more olive oil, as well as the lemon juice, the tahini, the za’atar, and the harissa. Blend for 1 minute, until smooth. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve on toast, with chips, or on sandwiches.