It was a rich but simple spread that finally convinced me to seek out eggplant instead of merely tolerating it. I put this eggplant caviar out with bread and deviled eggs for guests to nibble with drinks a couple of times before realizing that I could happily skip dinner after the supposed snack. With good bread and a thoughtfully dressed green salad, the combination becomes a real meal (and a downright luxurious one, if you ask me).
1 eggplant: $2.00
4 eggs: $1.00
1 pound flour: $1.00 Lettuce: $2.00
Pantry items: Olive oil, salt, pepper, mustard, mayonnaise, yeast, vinegar.
Total cost: $6.00
Leaving it to the pros at this time of year is understandable, of course, but if you want to bake your own bread you might try this reliable recipe, cutting it in half. Although you'll have to turn on the oven for the eggplant and the stove for the eggs, that work can be done well in advance, during the coolest part of the day. When dinner rolls around, all you have to do is stuff the eggs, slice the bread, and toss the salad. Add cheese or a couple of extra eggs to satisfy a couple of extra appetites if necessary.
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplant in half, rub the exposed flesh with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the eggplant cut-side-down on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until very, very soft, about 45 minutes. A knife should slip easily into the stem end when the eggplant is cooked.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, spoon the flesh out of the skin and into a bowl. Whip the flesh energetically with a fork to create a rough puree. Stir in a tablespoon of olive oil. Taste for salt and pepper. Add more olive oil to taste. Eggplant caviar is also excellent with a squeeze of lemon juice, a pounded garlic clove, and/or a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley or cilantro, if you happen to have any of those things around around.