Silky aubergine dip with dill and basil
It’s not even Christmas yet, but all I want is some salad and water. Actually, that’s something I overhead at my work Christmas party from the suspiciously blonde girls looking at their champagne as though it was a form of slow torture. I’m secretly reveling in all the deep fried nibbly things that inevitably get passed around at this time of year. But then at some point, I do start craving veges – nothing so airy as salad though. No, I’m talking about dense vegetable maximisation. A plate consisting of nothing but vegetables, that you dig in to with gusto.
Essentially, the roasted veges lie in a creamy, smoky, herbaceous smattering of aubergine dip, that resembles a lighter version of baba ganoush. A light dusting of sumac, some fresh herb leaves and a drizzle of olive oil make things look a little less spartan, but to be honest, this is wonderfully vegetably comfort food that doesn’t need to be pretty past the first bite. Thankfully, because would you check out the colour of that dip? It does have many virtues – deliciousness, versatility, relative simplicity – but prettiness is probably not one of them. When you use veges as your dip delivery mechanism, you can eat as much as you like without wishing for “some salad and a water,” while still feeling like you’ve indulged in many of life’s greatest pleasures. Also, you can have cake for breakfast (tick) and still easily get in your five plus a day. If you do go the veges dipped in veges route, I’d highly recommend getting really fresh veges, or things are going to taste pretty mellow. There is a noticeable difference between real basil and wispy supermarket basil especially. Lastly, of course feel free to use other herbs and spices. Oregano, coriander/cilantro if you’re a fan ,and tarragon would all be lovely. I just happen to love the way dill and basil turn roast veges into something summery.
Wondering what to serve this with, other than veges? It’s phenomenal with toast, eggs, crunchy raw veges, lightly crushed lentils or beans, and seafood. A little crumbled feta wouldn’t hurt, especially the creamy stuff. It can be served warm or cold, but I prefer room temperature. This makes it fairly versatile, to say the least. I’m wishing I made more to be honest!
Silky aubergine dip
Thanks to Simon Said for the inspiration The first time I tried some of his dip at the farmers market I bought two containers and they were gone in two days.
Makes about a cup and a half. Measurements very much approximate, so taste and adjust as you go!
- 4 fist sized aubergines, destemmed
- about 1/3c very finely chopped fresh dill, tender stalk bits only (the bits near the tip)
- around 10 basil leaves
- juice and zest of half a regular sized lemon
- optional: a few drops of sherry vinegar (or just more lemon)
- optional: smoked paprika or liquid smoke if you don’t have a gas burner/bbq
- optional: sumac for finishing
- optional: tiny splash of cream, or just go bananas on the olive oil at the end to keep this vegan friendly
- salt to taste
- cooking oil for baking and extra virgin olive oil for finishing
Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
Over a naked flame with a fork, blister the skins of each of your aubergines. If you don’t have a gas burner, you might be able to do this under a grill, or over a BBQ, or just proceed to the next step.
Cut each aubergine into 2 inch chunks, and place on an oiled baking tray. Brush generously with oil and sprinkle with salt, and cook for 20-25 minutes until golden brown splodges appear and a fork goes through with no resistance (the insides should be mostly translucent. Let cool slightly to help unstick the pieces better, then blitz with a stick blender with all the other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings until you’re satisfied.