It’s a side. It’s a dip. It’s a spread. It’s delicious.
In some recent travels, we ended up having breakfast at a deli. I had the most amazing challah French toast, and my husband had white fish salad. Happiness for both of us. We enjoyed our food there so much that the next day we returned for lunch. I wanted something lighter than a bagel or a pastrami sandwich. In the salad case I spied something reddish labeled as Spanish eggplant. I figured it was worth a try.
We took our lunches back to our hotel, and as I ate my Spanish eggplant, I tried to determine what its ingredients were. It definitely included eggplant (duh), tomatoes, and then a whole bunch of spices. It had hints of both heat and sweetness. So, to solve this mystery I googled. I found many recipes, all with their own spins. Some treated it as a side dish, some as a dip. It definitely could be used either way.
When I was finally home after a couple weeks on the road, the first meal I made included this dish. I wanted to see if I could recreate the flavors and textures. I’m not sure my version is 100% the same, which is why I’m not calling it Spanish eggplant. In my version I left chunks of tomato to offer more texture. I also didn’t purée any of the eggplant, which some recipes suggested. I chose spices based on my palate and not on an official recipe.
However, what I got was a really tasty dish that is quite versatile. I ate mine with a fork, treating it like a side dish. My husband used it first as a dip for a piece of pita bread, and then for his second serving as a spread for a lamb wrap. All three variations definitely work.
While this is a quick to make recipe, if you have time to let it simmer, I’d encourage that. I planned to serve it after the 15 or so minutes of cooking, but due to a timing issue I had to let it sit for another 30 minutes. Those extra 30 minutes provided a greater depth of flavor; it definitely is worth adding a little extra simmering time.
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. eggplant, diced
- 1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes, divided
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. red chili flakes
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add eggplant, sauté for 5 minutes.
- Place 1 cup tomatoes in blender and purée.
- Add diced and pureed tomatoes to cooked eggplant mixture.
- Cook for 5 minutes on medium.
- Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.