Sunday, October 5, 2008

Eggplant Caviar on Homemade Rye Bread

Mmmm . . . There's nothing like a simple evening meal of fresh tomato, luscious brie, and flavorful eggplant caviar on homemade rye bread with a bit of red wine . . .


Notes: I found this gem in Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook several years ago, and then found a way to "cheat" to make it even easier -- and a bit lower in fat. I'll tell you both ways to prepare it. It is an easy, flavorful, completely delicious vegetarian appetizer. I especially like to include it in a meze spread when sharing a meal with friends from Southern Europe. I also often make it up along with other salads and leave it in my fridge for part of an easy and delicious lunch.


  • 1 large globe eggplant
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • balsamic or red wine vinegar (I always use organic balsamic vinegar, which I can tolerate despite a sulfite allergy)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro (I tend to prefer parsley)
  • Grilled bread for serving (I particularly recommend homemade rye bread.)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. ALICE'S VERSION: Peel the eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put the eggplant in a baking dish, season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons water, cover tightly, and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until very soft. MY EASY VERSION: Wash and dry the eggplant, pierce it deeply a number of times through the skin with a fork, rub olive oil on the outside of it, and put it in a baking dish in the oven. Bake until very soft (for about an hour). Remove from oven, slice down the middle to let the steam escape, and let it cool until you can handle it without burning yourself. When you can handle it, scoop out the inside portion of the eggplant (leaving the skin behind) and mash it thoroughly with a fork.
  3. While the eggplant is baking, peel and dice the shallots very fine. Let them macerate for about 10 minutes in about 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Peel and mash the garlic (you can use a garlic press if you like) and add it to the shallots and vinegar.
  4. When the eggplant is done, add it to the shallot and garlic mixture, mashing with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature.
  5. Stir in the chopped parsley or cilantro (or a combination of both) and adjust the seasoning. Add additional olive oil and vinegar to taste. Serve on grilled bread.
NOTE: Alice's version is undoubtedly the more flavorful one, but if you're pressed for time, baking the eggplant whole as I've described above is a suitable alternative.

Speaking of wine, by the way, I have a new favorite. For ages, Orleans Hill was the vineyard that made the most affordable wine I liked and could drink (I have a sulfite sensitivity), and Bonterra was far and away the best low-sulfite wine I'd ever tried, but its $13 pricetag was prohibitive. Well, now there's a Trader Joe's label Zinfandel that is really quite drinkable, and for $5.50, there's really no beating it out for the price. Hooray!

You may notice, the link above is to a review. Well, one of the reviews is by yours truly, but I also want to draw your attention to the community, called Cork'd, where you can establish your own account and keep track of your favorite wines, and wines you want to avoid, and connect with other wine-lovers. Looks great! I still remain a big fan of GroupRecipes, too, where I originally posted my eggplant caviar recipe. . .)

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