by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
This is a poor man’s version of caviar that hails from Russian cuisine. After all, not everyone can afford Beluga caviar. In fact, I don’t seem to know anyone who can. 😉
The flavor is not dissimilar to baba ghannoush so if you like that, you are sure to like this.
I serve these on my homemade melba toasts, but you can also serve this on crackers, or any way you might want to serve it if it were fish roe caviar. Toasted pita wedges are also a possiblity, however, pita has a more Middle Eastern rather than Russian influence.
I used baby eggplant in this, which are just a tiny bit smaller than Japanese eggplant. I really don’t think the size will be a big deal as long as you make sure the weight is correct (you could use a part of a large globe eggplant, reserving the rest of that for another use) and also as long as you make sure it is tender after baking, since larger eggplant pieces may take more time in the oven. Just check it with a fork to see if it has become soft.
The hot pepper sauce is optional. I like mine just a tad spicy, but you can decide how you want yours. I don’t specify a brand as I make my own, and if you opt to use hot sauce, just use your discretion and add whatever type you like best. You can also use dried hot pepper or ground cayenne, whatever suits your needs. Aleppo pepper might be a good choice if you use dried. It is a Syrian type of hot pepper, and I imagine is probably more available in Russia than types such as Caribbean scotch bonnet or Mexican peppers, like chiltepin.
- 12 ounces baby eggplant
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (to drizzle; amount approximate)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely diced fresh ripe tomato
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dried chives
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional; if you want it a little spicy)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, place with cut sides up on a baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil, then bake for 25-35 minutes or until it is soft; allow to cool enough to handle.
- Use a spoon to scrape out the pulp from the eggplant and discard the skin.
- Pulse eggplant pulp in a food processor until smooth.
- Stir eggplant with all remaining ingredients and chill before serving.
- Serve as an appetizer spread or dip with crackers.
Makes 1 cup
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