creamy eggplant spread wth almonds and yogurt

Two weeks into September and all I’ve given you is apple chips (mighty fine apples chips, but still.)  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking – we’ve been eating all manner of homemade comfort food lately inspired by the first few chilly days of the season.  We’ve been cracking oysters; roasting chicken, pork, and potatoes; making spaetzel (with mustard – I highly recommend it); pureeing cauliflower; and eating all manner of baked apple desserts.  And through it all, I haven’t managed to document a single recipe.  Lame, I know.  I’ll make it up to you, I promise.

Starting with this tasty little eggplant spread.  Hugo and I have been spending these beautifully breezy afternoons ogling over produce – so pretty in the slated late summer sun – at the farmer’s market.  We carried home four long and curly Japanese eggplants (which look like they should be part of Medusa’s hair) as part of our haul this week, along with a bunch of mint the size of Hugo’s head. 

Once at home, I laid out the eggplants on a sheet pan and roasted them, along with a head of garlic, until their purple skins turned tan and their flesh was soft.  Then into the blender they went with all manner of vaguely Mediterranean or North African ingredients – the result was one of the yummiest eggplant spreads I’ve made.  Creamy with a little yogurt and tahini and brightly flavored with cumin, coriander, and mint, the spread gets a little sweetness from soaked golden raisins pureed along with the eggplant. 

I packed the spread up and served it at my friend Becca’s house for book club on Tuesday night.  I had meant to serve it warm – broiled and topped with crumbled goat cheese and slivered almonds, but after consulting with Becca’s oven (decidedly uncooperative in the matter), we ate it as is.  And loved it.

Serves 6-8 as a snack/appetizer. 

For the Spread

4 Japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones)

1 small head garlic or ½  a large head

3 tbsp golden raisins

¼ cup slivered almonds plus more for topping

¼ cup olive oil plus more for topping

¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt

1 tbsp tahini

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp packed fresh mint leaves plus more for topping

Salt

Soft crumbly goat cheese for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the top off the garlic and place it along with the eggplants (leave them whole) on a baking tray.  Bake until the eggplants are very soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Meanwhile, soak the raisins in boiling water for 15 minutes to soften them. 

Once the eggplant is cool, cut each in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor.  Squeeze the roasted garlic in with the eggplant.  Drain and add the raisins, almonds, olive oil, yogurt, tahini, cumin, coriander, mint, and a generous pinch of salt.  Process until very smooth, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.

To Serve:  Preheat the broiler.  Spread the puree in an oven safe bowl, drizzle it generously and then scatter it with crumbled goat cheese and slivered almonds.  Broil until the spread is warm and the cheese is browned and melted, about 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, top with torn mint leaves, and serve immediately with bread or pita.   Or:  Serve the spread room temperature topped with the goat cheese, slivered almonds, and mint.