Eggplants are in season in summer, a time of year that, because of the convenience of an outdoor grill, allows for a kind of smoky cooking that just wouldn’t fly indoors in a city kitchen. For me, charring eggplants is a prime example. Left whole and laid on a hot grill to blister and blacken, eggplants give up an astonishing amount of liquid and their bouncy flesh slumps into silkiness. This dish, a twist on a classic baba ghanoush, is great to begin with a grill still hot from cooking another meal. Char a few eggplants and you’re a few steps away from this satisfying spread.
2 large eggplants, any type (about pound)
Juice of one lemon (2–3 tablespoons)
1 small red onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, grated finely
¼ cup tahini
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh parsley, basil or mint (or a mix of the three)
Crusty bread or pita or sliced cucumber, to serve
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Lay eggplants, whole and unadorned, directly onto grates. Grill, turning occasionally with tongs, about 20 minutes or until the skin appears well charred and the eggplants are beginning to slump. Remove to a colander set into a bowl and allow to cool.
While eggplant cooks and cools, prepare garlic and cut red onion into a fine dice. Add lemon juice to red onion to mellow flavor and allow to marinate.
Once eggplants have completely cooled, hold by the stem and remove peel in strips. Add eggplant flesh to a food processor with tahini, garlic and salt. Drain lemon juice from onion and add, reserving onion. Pulse until a uniform, chunky paste forms, adding olive oil as needed to thin.
Remove to a bowl and fold in onion and fresh herbs. Drizzle with more olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Serve with crusty bread, pita or cucumber chips.