Eggplant Dip on Parade

Calorie counts, as well as carb and cholesterol counts, are odd things for me.  I’ve got a sense of what’s what nutritionally.  I know what’s highly caloric and what’s not, what’s generally healthful and what’s not, and I guess that I must police myself on some unconscious level.  I know that I think about these things when I’m creating recipes.  Not when I’m creating a hot-fudge sundae — then, all I’m thinking about is getting the flavors of childhood.  Or not, for example, when I’m creating a butter coookie — then, I’d never stint on the most caloric ingredient, the butter, because it would be a disaster for the cookie.  Or not when I’m making a classic or traditional recipe — again, I wouldn’t want to compromise what made the dish a classic in the first place.  But when I’m making something new, particularly a savory dish, I like to see how much flavor and texture I can get with how little oil or butter or cream.  It’s a kind of game I play with myself and, as in any game, it’s always fun to win — and I consider this dip a winner! 

The dip’s made by roasting a couple of eggplants in a hot oven until their bellies give at a prod.  The scooped-out flesh is whirred in a food processor with a little olive oil, and then I add lemon juice and zest (the combo really brightens the dish), garlic, onion and basil.  The mix is delicious and it’s easy to make, too (another reason it’s a winner).

Sure the dip clocks in at 70 calories in part because the count doesn’t include pita wedges, but if you wanted to be really, really careful, you could spread it on tomato slices or scoop it up with lettuce leaves or endive, nature’s most perfect scooper.

And, you can play around with the recipe.  I added chopped tomatoes to the dip in the picture, but it’ll take roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro or even a little thyme.

Naturally, if you’re not as jazzed about a 70-calorie dip as I am, you could add tahini, but then your eggplant caviar would not only be richer, it would be babaganoush!

For the recipe, click over to Parade’s website.

Dorie Greenspan