Not that I think you are dense or anything, but I am just going to say it right off the bat: you need to turn on your oven to make this. If that turns you away, so be it, but all I can do is offer my promise that turning on your oven to make this is so worth it.
Any other time of the year, I wouldn't need to give this disclaimer, but I feel like everyone is sweltering lately. Even living here in San Diego where we supposedly have a 'mild' climate, it is HOT. (I finally broke down and bought my first fan! Please don't make fun of me that I didn't have a fan before.) You probably think I am crazy, telling you to make a Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip when your house is already a heat box, but I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite things to make in the summer.
This dip tops my list of summer favorites because it is easy, healthy, and very quick and inexpensive to make. So naturally, when my sister came to visit last weekend, we whipped up a batch to take to the beach. She specifically asked me to show her recipes we could make together that she would be able to recreate back at home in Colorado. My sister cooks, but isn't as passionate about it as I am and doesn't have a lot of time on her hands (and really just prefers ice cream and brownies), so easy recipes like this one are perfect for her.
My sister also asked me the right way to cut an onion and other veggies, and I felt like a proud teacher with a star pupil as she sliced and diced like a pro.
So here is just how easy this recipe is: You slice up the veggies...
Give them a good coating of high quality extra virgin olive oil...
Toss the vegetables together with salt, pepper, and lots of garlic...
Roast the veggies at 400 degrees for 45 minutes...
And then puree the roasted vegetables with tomato paste... and then you are done! It seriously is that easy, and it is waaaay better than the dips or spreads you can get from the store.
My sister said the things she liked the most about this Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip were the velvety texture (I think the roasted eggplant gets almost creamy), the rich red color, and the ease of making it. I would have to agree with her on all accounts, because of course, great minds think alike. It seemed like she was amazed that plain and boring vegetables could be turned into something so tasty with just a little roasting to coax out the flavor.
But I also love how much everyone else always loves this dip - I have taken it to so many summer parties that I have lost count, and every time people swoon over the Mediterranean flavors. I have served it with simple tortilla chips, flatbread, french bread, and ciabatta, and it tastes great with them all. And of course, if you really don't want to heat up your oven you can always save this recipe for the fall... If you can wait that long.
You might also like: Quick Peach Chipotle Salsa, or Mediterranean Pasta with Hummus and Charred Tomatoes
One year ago: Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
1 medium Italian eggplant, or 2 medium Chinese eggplants, skin peeled off with a vegetable peeler
2 red bell peppers, washed well, and seeded
1 red onion
2-4 cloves minced garlic (I like a lot of garlic in mine!)
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp tomato paste
For serving (pick one):
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare veggies by chopping the eggplant, red pepper, and red onion into roughly 1-inch sized pieces. Put them in a large bowl, then toss well with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, so that all the vegetables are well coated. Spread them out in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet, then roast them for 45 minutes, tossing the vegetables once during roasting. Once they are done, they will be well-browned and soft.
Let the vegetables cool slightly, then transfer them to a food processor. Pulse the vegetables a few times to break them up, then add the tomato paste and pulse until well-blended and mostly smooth. (I like it smooth with a few larger bits, but you can leave the dip as chunky or as smooth as you like.) Serve at room temperature with chips or bread, or store refrigerated for a few days.