Unusually light in weight with a body like a bulbous, purple alien baby, the eggplant is a deliciously misunderstood vegetable. Some are perplexed by its preparation; the eggplant’s spongy qualities and interesting texture make it prime for culinary confusion. But with this simple recipe, you can deconstruct the eggplant and transform it into a savory, Greek-inspired dish.
When preparing the eggplant, don’t be afraid of charring the purple skin. If cooked properly, your eggplant should emerge from broiling mostly blackened. Be sure to wear proper oven mitts, or molten eggplant flesh could scorch you while you’re scooping it out. While you’re scooping, try to simultaneously mix the eggplant with lemon juice: The acidity will keep it from discoloring.
More mature eggplants can get a tad bitter, so don’t hesitate to balance that out by sweetening with a dash of sugar. The texture of the dip is all up to you. Leave it thick and chunky or toss the final product in a blender or food processor for a smooth, silky finish. This recipe also works well as a topping for baked chicken breasts. It also tastes great spread inside a pita with some mixed greens for a quick Greek wrap.
Position oven rack 6–8 inches from broiler and preheat. Rinse eggplant and pierce with fork several places all over the skin to vent steam. Cover a rimmed baking pan with tinfoil and place eggplant in center under broiler.
Using metal kitchen tongs, turn the eggplant approximately every 5 minutes as the skin
becomes charred; entire eggplant should be blackened in 15–20 minutes. Remove eggplant and let cool until ready to handle.
In a frying pan, sauté bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic with 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3–5 minutes, until tender. Put lemon juice into a medium nonmetallic bowl. Cut eggplant in half and carefully scoop innards into bowl and toss with lemon juice. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and stir until well incorporated.
Mix in feta, bell pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeno, basil, parsley, salt and paprika. Add salt, pepper or sugar to personal taste and garnish with parsley.