Roasted Eggplant & Chickpea Purée

        from the blog For Love of the Table
 
2 globe eggplant (about 14 to 16 oz. each)
1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t. ground cumin (or more, to taste)
1/8 t. cayenne
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Plain yogurt (preferably whole milk)
Toasted pine nuts
paprika (smoked or sweet)

Prick each eggplant several times and place on a baking sheet. Roast in a 400° oven until collapsed and very tender to the tip of a knife—about 40 minutes to an hour. Cut the eggplant open and set in a colander set over a plate. Leave for 15 minutes to allow the excess juices—if any—to drain off.

When the eggplant has cooled, remove the peel from the eggplant flesh—you can do this by scraping the flesh out with a spoon, or simply by pulling the skins away from the flesh in long strips. You may use the eggplant right away, or refrigerate for a day or two before proceeding with the recipe.

Place the chickpeas in the food processor with the garlic and lemon juice and process, stopping to scrape the sides occasionally. Continue to process until very smooth.
 
Add the eggplant flesh (you should have 1 3/4 to 2 cups) to the bowl of the food processor along with the cumin and cayenne and a good pinch of salt. Process until very smooth and creamy (scraping occasionally). With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to process until the oil is fully incorporated (there shouldn't be a sheen of oil visible on the surface of the purée). Taste and correct the seasoning with salt, cayenne, cumin and lemon juice (this dish is very much "to taste").

To serve, mound the purée in a wide, shallow bowl. With the back of a spoon, make a hollow in the purée and spoon in some (well-stirred) yogurt. (Alternatively, fold yogurt to taste...1/4 cup?..into the purée.) Drizzle liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and scatter the pine nuts over all. Serve with crudités, warm pita or crostini.
 
Makes a generous 3 cups purée
 
 
Notes:
 
If you have never roasted eggplant whole before, check out my post on Escalivada for pictures and a more detailed description of the process.
  • If you cook chickpeas from dried, you will need 1 3/4 cups cooked. It is not necessary (in fact, not desirable) to rinse them if you have cooked them yourself. Simply drain them. You can use the cooking liquid to thin the purée if you like.
  • The purée may be served chilled, but I think it is best at room temperature.
  • The purée is delicious without the yogurt. I happen to prefer it with the yogurt, but it is fine without.