Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip

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.    


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):
Tortilla chips
Pita chips
French Bread

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.    


  1. This looks lovely! Makes me want to host a party with lots of pretty dips!

  2. An awesome dip! It must be very flavorful and so enjoyable. Just the kind of recipe I love.



  3. You made this for me - you knew these were two of my favorite things roasted, right? It looks fantastic!

  4. I love how the veggies are raosted!

  5. Lovely step by step -- I absolutely love roasted veggies and making them into a dip is even better for quick enjoyment =D

  6. This dip sounds like it would be worth turning on the oven, if only to get my hands on some! :)
    It reminds me a lot of a dip my favourite Tunisian place serves, only theirs is a little spicy (I think they roast some chilies along with the peppers). They top it with chopped hardboiled eggs, oil-packed tuna and tons of onion and parsley... so good. I may have to try your recipe out with some red hot chilies to see if it comes out like that.

  7. Isabelle: Wow that sounds incredible!!! Please do try it, I would love to know how it turns out, and then I can try it too! ;)

  8. Seriously genius. I love roasted vegetables, so whirling them all up into a dip is simply perfect. Great summer appetizer!

  9. What a yummy looking dip. I love the taste of roasted veggies, they're always better that way and made into a dip they sound even more awesome! :D

  10. love that rich color, sounds super.

  11. Completely worth turning on the oven! Love the color. We have so many eggplants right now this will be a perfect use for them.

  12. This looks soo good, I love roasted veggie dips. Especially ones with eggplant! Somehow it makes me feel less guilty for eating large quantities of it as well. LOL

  13. The color of this dip is amazing. I love recipes like this because I can whip up a batch and my girls love to snack on it. It would also make a great school lunch for them with some tortilla chips and chopped vegetables to dip in it.

  14. This is like the best of hummus and baba ghanoush all whirled into one wonderful dip! YUM!

  15. This dip looks beautiful and sounds really delicious! I love your photographs!

  16. I made this tonight, since I had to turn the oven on anyway. I made the mistake of grocery shopping on a Monday afternoon, and all my usual staple veggies were missing, but red bell peppers and egg plant were still on the shelf, so I decided it was meant to be. Thanks for such an easy idea.

  17. I have something like this before and I agree its worth the oven. Who doesn't prefer ice cream and cookies? I think your onion slicing is beautiful. I really need to work on my chopping skills. My mentality is normally - get it done!

  18. I have a recipe that is so so similar to this that I adore. I need to pull it out now because it's been way to long since I've made it.

  19. For this dip, I would turn on the oven. Beautiful color, and I love those flavors.

  20. I was fortunate to have tried this dip. Its rich, flavorful, and very tasty. Its like crack, seriously. Seems simple to make, will be on my "must" list of things to make. Thanx for the post too!


  21. Amanda, this is a perfect dish for summer. If you cannot go to any of the Mediterranean countries, you can easily bring them to your kitchen. I love the simplicity of it, and I am sure that it tastes divine!
    My middle daughter does not like eggplant (just a visual thing - I hide it, and she eats it:) and this would be a great way for all of us to enjoy it.
    And you are such a good sister:) My younger sister comes to me for cooking advice, and it always fills me with pride.

  22. I love the flavours, this sounds like the perfect dip to bring along to a BBQ or a party. I am loving Sydney winter at the moment, I definitely cope much better with winter than summer in here!

  23. Wow - it's 9 am and already 87 degrees, but you just convinced my to turn on my oven...and I couldn't be more excited. Yum!! :-)

  24. Thanks for the disclaimer! lol!
    This might just be worth a few extra degrees of heat.

  25. Follow up: just got done making this. I'm eating it out of the food processor as we speak. (Who would have thought I'd have an eggplant in my pantry, waiting to be roasted?) It tastes as delicious as it looks!! :-)

  26. The best things are made of just a few ingredients. I like to say "let the vegetable speak" Beautiful color and photo! I like the onion cutting shot with your perfectly manicured nails! :) Thanks!

  27. OH... MY... WORD!!! That is like all I have to say, I am speechless and drooling because this looks so freaking good! Love it!

  28. Diana: OMG - when I made this recipe for the very first time I was eating it out of the food processor too! :D It seriously is seriously irresistible.

    Elizabeth: Glad you enjoyed the recipe too, isn't it great when you can use up those leftover veggies?

    And I thought I would share what another reader (Blanca) tweeted today:

    "I made this recipe from @thecilantropist. Delish!!! I had mine with baby carrots."

  29. Oh, and RFR, hate to disappoint you, but those are my sister's perfectly manicured nails. ;) Mine are usually just short, lol!

  30. what a vibrant dip ! hopefully eggplant will go down my throat this way at least :)

  31. Sounds fantastic, I'd turn on the oven no problem for this dip!

  32. Two words: grill it? (Just trying to help not turn the oven on!) Looks great. I have a roasted eggplant dip ( too but didn't think of pureeing it. Yours looks fabulous!

  33. I love roasted red pepper dip and eggplant dip on their own, but have never thought to combine them. Love the idea, plus the color is just fantastic.

  34. Eggplants and red pepper are two of my favorite veggies this summer. Clearly this needs to happen in my kitchen :)

  35. I love eggplants dips, but I never thought of adding peppers in. It sounds awesome!!

  36. One of my favorite roasted veggies besides potatoes (heehee) are bell peppers and eggplant. They tastes MUCH better when roasted than stir fried, for example. This dip can be and will be one of my favorite dips for sure. I can't wait to try this out. Thanks for the recipe and all the beautiful pictures to look at!

  37. Hi, I made this today and it was truly amazing. I wanted to eat it out of the container with a spoon:) I toasted some pumpernickel bread and spread it on there. Tomorrow I think I will put it on pasta. Do you know if it freezes well and thanks for sharing your recipe. So easy and good and a great way to get some veges in. I love your photos:)

  38. This does look and sound like an amazing dip...I can just imagine the flavors, and I am sure your sisters statement with the eggplant is quite accurate. Beautiful summer recipe :)

  39. Hi there!
    Greeting from Bulgaria!
    We here are making something like your recipe but we call it Lutenitza! And usually is being spread on French type bread. For having the best results for this recipe, I advice if you have opportunity to grill the eggplant right on some surface that allows it, do the same with the bell pepper. Like for example you can use your frying pan, that one that you want to through away and grill it. Then you should peel them!

  40. Eliotseats: That is great idea to try grilling the veggies instead of roasting! Brilliant!

    Robyn: Glad you enjoyed the dip, I have trouble not just eating it right out of the processor too. :) I actually have not tried freezing it before, but I usually freeze hummus (for a few months - beyond that it gets grainy and watery) so I bet this would work fine. I almost always can't resist eating it long enough to freeze it, lol!

    Nicolas: Your version sounds great, and I often spread this on french bread too. I usually peel my eggplant before I roast it too.

  41. Thanks:) I put it on pasta shells today, it was delicious :)

  42. This looks awesome! I love roasted eggplant and bell pepper as a side dish, so I can't imagine that this wouldn't be a GREAT dip! Thanks for the recipe!

  43. Nothing is worth turning on the oven here in the Northeast in the middle of our 95+ heatwave... and maybe someone has already mentioned this... but surely we can make this yummy dip by roasting eggplants and peppers over the flame of gas stove burner (or on barbeque grill), you know, the old-fashioned way, turning each veg around over the flame until skins are black and charred, putting in paper bag after grilling to steam/soften charred skins, and peeling off skins when they've cooled down a bit... then proceeding with your recipe as described (ok, with onions sauteed in a pan until crisp too)?? I will try it!
    (love, love, love your blog name too, by the way)
    - A fellow cilantro lover

  44. Yum! Sounds great! And so easy to make :) Looks like a winner!

  45. Fellow cilantro lover: YES! You definitely should be able to do that with the veggies, though I have never tried it and you would probably have to experiment with the roasted onion and eggplant. Have you tried 'grilling' these over a flame burner before? If you give a try please let us know how it works out!

    Robyn: Once I saw your comment about putting it on pasta (like pesto), I tried it immediately. LOVED it. Genius!

  46. This is fabulously simple! I can't stop eating it!

  47. Sounds delicious! We're not having much of a summer here in Paris, so I have no qualms about turning on the oven and making this ASAP!

  48. Loved this dip! Very easy to make (even for the inexperienced cook!) We took it to the beach and enjoyed it with some baked pitas for a healthier snack!

  49. LOVE this tasty and healthy dip to boot! The hubby loves this dip too. It tastes even better chilled over night! Thanks for all the amazing posts.

  50. Anonymous: Fantastic! I am glad you love it!

    Rebecca: Yes! The fact that it is healthier makes it even better. You should make it again soon! ;)

    Jennifer: Oh I totally forgot to mention that! Yes, I think something magical happens in the fridge, it does taste excellent after sitting for a bit to let the flavors meld.

  51. AH! I love love love this recipe! I've been making it for years, one of my first Barefoot Contessa recipes I've tried. I wanted to ask you if it would be okay to use one of your photos in a slideshow roundup for Babble (recipes using eggplant roundup)...please let me know, photo would be in slideshow with a direct link to this recipe!

    Your photos are gorgeous! This was one of my earlier posts and the photos are embarrassing :)

  52. Aggie: you can definitely use my photo for the Babble slideshow/roundup! Looking forward to seeing it, I love eggplant! :D

  53. made this today... my mom & i LOVED it!!! can't wait 'til other family members try it later =D

    thanks for this! =]

  54. So glad you enjoyed it Melissa! My parents made it last weekend too and loved it. Maybe it is time for me to make another batch? :)

  55. Made this for some friends for a dinner party. I was able to make the dip the night before, which is always a plus with a busy work schedule! Loved the rich texture again. Could have eaten the roasted vegetables as they came out of the oven they were so tasty.

  56. This looks delicious! What would you suggest to thin it out to make it into a sauce to go over pasta?

  57. Thanks so much for this recipe, Cilantropist!
    I used it as a framework and subbed eggplant for sun dried tomatos, was delicious
    Thanks again!
    (gave you a shout out :)

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  81. are you really not cooking the tomato paste? i dont know how i feel about eating something out of a can or squeeze tube and not heating it to cook out any hidden nasties. i even bring my soup to a boil before eating it.


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