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This dip has all the sharp, slightly sweet and sour, with smoky flavor to kick-start a passionate Levantine feast.

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When I need to be reminded that life is wonderful, I eat eggplant. It’s smoky sweet flavor, smooth yielding flesh, and sneakily seductive flavor make it of the nature’s most decent vegetable. In levant’ markets, the eggplants come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from the regular kind, elongated and uniform in size; to zebra_streaked on the outside and pure white on the inside; baby eggplants; globe eggplants; and the baladi, a local heirloom variety that is wide, flat, and resembles an open fan.
Good eggplants should be light in weight, with not many seeds inside, and have a tight, shiny skin.

This dip is my favorite. It’s one of many humble eggplant dishes that makes a large portion of the middle eastern mazzi table assortment. For some who are not familiar with this type of dinning; It’s an assortment of appealing appetizers, which consist of a colorful medley of dips, spreads, and salads, and might include a few turnover like pastries. Fresh breads are their essential accompaniment.

To Roast the Eggplant: Prick the eggplant in a few places with a pointed knife to prevent from exploding. Turn them under a preheated broiler on a sheet of foil on an oven tray, or turn them over the flame of a gas burner or a barbecue, until the skin is charred all over and they feel very soft. Alternatively, place them on a sheet of foil on an oven tray and roast them in the hottest oven for 45 – 55 minutes, until they are very soft. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants ( you can do this under cool running water), drop the flesh into a strainer, and chop it with a knife, then mash it with a fork, letting their juices escape, or for an easy quick way just pop them with other ingredient into the food processor.

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Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Dip

 

1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
2 medium size red pepper
Olive oil
1/4 cup green olives or black, pitted and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1\4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt & black pepper
Toasted pita triangles, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Place the whole eggplant on the pan, prick with a fork in several places, and rub with olive oil, roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. On the same sheet line the red pepper and Roast for 15-20 min. Put the pepper in plastic bag, this will make it easy to peel the skin. Set the eggplant aside to cool. Halve the eggplant, peel, and discard the skin. Place the eggplant, peppers, and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into a mixing bowl.

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Add the garlic to the eggplant mixture, the parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles.

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