Awakening To Summer

They said it would be summer this week, and they were right.  Opening my eyes to the sun this morning felt surreal, so overcast and dreary have recent mornings been.  Even though we’ve been dressed in sweaters and fleece thus far, in an act of faith I washed all of my white clothes, hoping for a chance to wear them, and hey presto, that seems to have done the trick. It was either that, or this magnificent eggplant dip.  To hedge your summer bets, I suggest both washing all your summer finery, and making this dip the next time you have the grill going.  That ought to do it, summerwise.

Of course, there’s always the chance that fireworks simply banished the gloom gods to wherever it is they go when the sun is pouring down on us

waking the shivering flowers and and inspiring me to rearrange my closet putting all those gauzy white garments front and center.

Or perhaps Anne’s beautiful cheesecake swaddled in Rebecca’s edible summer flowers did the trick.  We’ll never know, but I’m betting that some part of this splendid state of affairs has to do with the eggplant dip.

You’ll want to make this after you finish grilling something serious, when you’re left with glowing embers and no desire to stand over them.  Pop the eggplants on the grill, sit down to dinner, and by the time the embers are cool your eggplant will be done.  To make life easy, tuck them away in the fridge overnight, and the next morning before it gets hot, spend half an hour in the kitchen whipping up this dip.  Later in the day, when you take it out of the fridge all gingery and piqued with cilantro and coriander, you’ll praise the heat and down the dip, refreshed once again by summer’s bounty.

Steve Raichlen’s Trinidadian Eggplant Dip*

2 lbs long slender eggplants
8 cloves garlic, cut in slivers lengthwise
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Wash and dry the eggplants.  With a small sharp knife, make slits in the eggplant and stuff the garlic slivers into the slits.  Grill them until they are very soft and collapsed-looking, which takes 20-30 minutes depending on how hot your coals are and the diameter of your eggplants. Allow them to cool before proceeding, and if you wish, refrigerate them overnight.

Remove the flesh of the eggplant and the garlic from the peel with the tip of a small spoon.  Place the eggplant flesh and the garlic in a flat bowl and mash them thoroughly with a fork.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and you’re good to go, or you can chill the dip for later in the day.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups of dip.

Raichlen suggests serving this with pita chips, but it’s also good with vegetables, although a bit slippery to pick up, and even as a sauce for leftover grilled chicken.  I don’t know about your 4th, but my guests demolished the ribs while largely ignoring the chicken, so I was very glad to discover that this dip doubles easily as a sauce.  I think it could make an excellent potato salad too, so if you try that, please let me know how you like it.

*from his wonderful book The Barbecue Bible, which no, I am NOT giving away, you’ll have to go get yourself a copy, and you should!

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5 Comments on “Awakening To Summer”

  1. Ujwala Samant Says:

    Hey Abra,
    This is what is called Bhareeth in Marathi. The only missing ingredient is a long sliced green chilli; not spicy, just a zing. I’ve known neighbours to add mint and coriander mixed. We don’t use powdered coriander, since this is a fresh, summer side dish. We use green coriander chopped very fine. I serve it with toasted pita as a dip too.

  2. Lucy Says:

    Hmmm! I have a very good friend who is coming to visit in the mountains with her mother. She spent a good portion of her childhood in Trinidad! This will be a very good thing to prepare one evening, everything from the garden, except the ginger. Thank you!

  3. Zuleme Says:

    I love eggplant and that sounds wonderful!
    We’re having a heat wave here, our third day and my New England blood does not like it.

  4. heidih Says:

    Your joy at the sunshine is palpable. Great recipe. I thought I planted the big rounded eggplants but ended up with long slender ones. I like the concept of the garlic slivers. Will be making by the weekend when eggplants look to be ready.

  5. Jan Says:

    Oh, I love eggplant! Can’t wait to try this one, it sounds delicious.

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