Spanish Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip

My father got into his head over the holidays that it would be totally great and practical to invite friends over for a tapas night.

Now, I really like tapas. The idea of having lots of little fresh dishes to pick and choose from is seriously appealing. But making 10 dishes for as many people is kind of ridiculous.

Of course, my dad’s way around this was to enlist the rest of the family by forcing each of us to pick two to three recipes to make. I stupidly selected recipes that involved roasted red peppers, which, while delicious, are rather labour intensive to prepare. As a result my good friend Mackenzie and I spent 5 hours in the kitchen that afternoon (baking two different types of cookies on top of the three — not two, three — dishes I’d been assigned).

Thankfully, everything was delectable and, while I have no desire to make anything roasted-red-pepper-related for a while, I know at some point I will start to crave this yummy dip and get back into the kitchen for an afternoon of pepper peeling!

Spanish Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip
adapted from Tapas, by Susanna Tee

2 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic
the juice and rind of 1/2 a lemon
olive oil
1/2 to 1 tbsp paprika
salt and freshly cracked pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 375º.

2. Prick the eggplant and bell peppers with a fork and brush lightly with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool. Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the red peppers and remove their stems and seeds. Cut the eggplants in half and spoon the flesh out.
NOTE: I roasted my vegetables in the morning, let them cool in the fridge all day, and then finished the recipe in the afternoon.

4. Peel the garlic and chop it into small pieces.

5. In a large frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the eggplant and red pepper chunks and stir fry for 5 minutes.

6. Transfer the contents of the frying pan into a large food processor and add 2-3 tbsp olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, and the paprika and salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture until it becomes smooth, but not uniform — you want the dip to be speckled with colour and textures from all the vegetables, so that it is still chunky.

7. Garnish with parsley and serve at room temperature with vegetable sticks and toasted pita or other breads.

Chunky and fresh eggplant and red pepper dip.

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