Famished Guests, Creamy Eggplant Spread on Bruscetta, Holiday Recipes

How many times have you walked into a party, cocktails and wine are plentiful , one thing that is conspicuous by its absence or paucity is food.

You came straight from work and are famished. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea.

All the host needs to have are a few finger foods ready for the taking, like today's recipe from Italian Home Cooking (Kyle Books) by Julia Della Croce.

Creamy Eggplant Spread on Bruschetta

Serves 4


2 medium Italian eggplants

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

freshly sliced and toasted artisan bread, for serving

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

The Italians have so many delicious ways of cooking eggplant, but this, perhaps one of the simplest, is a favorite of my daughter, a vegetarian. The clear flavors of fresh eggplant and good olive oil pop because no herbs or spices distract save a pinch of oregano. The trick to transforming eggplant from bitter to sweet without salting it is to remove excess seeds after roasting or grilling (if charred on a wood-fired grill, the pulp will take on a pleasant smoky flavor).



1. Preheat an oven to 400°F.

2. Place the whole eggplants and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and slide the pan onto the middle rack of the oven.

Roast the garlic until soft, about 15 minutes; remove from the oven and set aside.

Roast the eggplant until completely soft and collapsed and the skin is blackened, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a spoon to scoop and discard excess seeds from the eggplant. Putthe pulp in a sieve and allow it to drain to release excess moisture, from 1 hour to overnight, chilled.

3. Peel and mash the garlic and place it and the eggplant pulp in the bowl of an electric mixer. Alternatively, place it in a mixing bowl and use a hand whisk.

Add the vinegar. Using the whisk attachment, or whisking by hand, whisk the mixture while pouring in the olive oil little by little, as though you were making mayonnaise, until the eggplant mixture is creamy and light. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Spread the eggplant cream onto the warm toasted bread slices. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.

Ahead-of-time note: This spread can be made well ahead of time and stored in a covered vessel, chilled, for up to 5 days.

Let me know how this goes down at your party.

(* Recipe by Julia della Croce from 'Italian  Home Cooking' (2010) reproduced by permission of Kyle Books, photography by Christopher Hirsheimer)

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