Next time you think about putting out something to go with drinks, look past the standard salsa and guacamole and chips, and the pepperoni, cheese, and crackers and think vegetables. A veggie tray with dip is good, but I don’t know many people who would reach past a slice of pepperoni to get a carrot stick.
This roasted eggplant dip is healthy, low fat and delicious. Serve it with homemade pita chips, and you will have raised the level of appetizers to an art form! This is an adaptation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe, but Tom Colicchio does something similar if you want to explore other ideas along these lines.
2 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red or yellow peppers
I large sweet onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 TBS olive oil
1-2 TBS tomato paste
1. Chop the eggplant, peppers and onion into a similar sized medium dice; mince the garlic.
2. Spread the vegetables on a large sheet pan; add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to make sure everything is coated.
3. Bake at 400 degrees until veggies are soft and slightly caramelized. This will take approximately 40 minutes. Check their progress after 20 minutes and move things around to ensure even cooking.
4. Let the vegetables cool for a few minutes when they come out of the oven. At this point, you can use your food processor to combine the roasted vegetables with the tomato paste or you can just use a fork. You want this to be chunky as opposed to smooth, so if you use the food processor, keep it to just a few pulses to blend the ingredients. Check for seasoning.
5. Put it in a bowl (sprinkle with a few parsley or celery leaves) and serve with thin slices of toasted or grilled French bread or pita chips.
6. Homemade pita chips are easy to make. Just cut pita rounds into triangles, separate into single layers, brush with olive oil and season with salt. If you want to get fancy, you can add grated Parmesan cheese. Spread on a sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
This obviously takes more time and effort than opening a jar of salsa and pouring taco chips into a bowl, but it’s something that you might want to try when you’re looking for something different. Think about it when you’re bringing an appetizer to someone else’s house for a cookout. People really seem to like it, and it’s not only seasonal, but healthy.