Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eggplant and Yogurt Spread with Red Onions & Olives

The first half of this summer was all about eating from the U of M edible garden (working for judges=awesome work, not so much with the getting paid), and I am truly thankful to the department that maintains it. This dish used eggplant and basil from the garden and went over well at a friend's Fourth of July party. Pics are from a pre-party test run.

Eggplant and Yogurt Spread with Red Onions & Olives
from a borrowed Greek cookbook whose name escapes me...

1 small eggplant
1 cup plain yogurt or thickened yogurt (you could use Greek yogurt or make your own, see below)
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives (rinsed of their brine)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
whole fresh basil leaves
crackers/pita chips for serving

Line a strainer with a piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter and place over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the cheesecloth/filter and let it drain for about an hour or so. The longer it sits, the thicker and more cheese-like it will get. $4 for Fage what??

Score the eggplant and roast it at 450 degrees for about 1 hour. It'll be finished when it's all soft and wrinkly. Peel back the skin and let the steam escape to cool. Scrape the pulp from the eggplant, transfer it to a large bowl, and mix with a fork until creamy.

Stir in the yogurt, chopped basil, olives, onion, garlic, and salt, blending well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, until thoroughly chilled.

To serve, garnish with basil leaves. Having tried this with Ritz crackers, Carr's water crackers, Triscuits, and pita chips, my vote is for serving it with the pita chips.

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