Ina Garten’s appetizers are, like all of her recipes, lovely and luscious, but while making this I kept remembering how often Ina speaks about simple, store-bought appetizers like
and so on. The show sometimes drives along with Ina into town to pick up the ready-to-go food and I have to admit I’m always jealous of the shops she has available. Her point is often that if you have too many nibbles with your apertif or sparkler, you’re full. Not only that, who wants to spend not only the whole day getting ready for company, but making yet another recipe? I not only agree with her, I follow those rules for entertaining and make things easy on myself. I’ll also admit I adore potato chips and champagne.
In fact, I looked back at the Food Network site and even found a little video of Ina waxing poetic about three silver bowls filled with purchased goodies for Thanksgiving: nuts, chips, and caper berries.
Just to get my head on straight (quite a feat), I went to the master book index (all of Ina’s cookbook recipes indexed in one spot) on barefootcontessa.com and discovered that, at least in the cookbooks, there still are quite a few “made” appetizers, starters, or hors d’oeuvres –whichever is your favorite term. The majority contain protein of some sort–chicken, salmon, cheese, or lamb. While I’m an omnivore and definitely a carnivore, I rarely choose meat (good pun, huh?) to go along with a cocktail, mixed drink, or first glass of wine. I save my protein calories for main courses and usually am happy to have vegetables early on. So when I came across this gorgeous eggplant mash, I jumped on it. I thought it would go with a variety of drinks, would be healthy, inexpensive, beautiful, fun, and definitely in season. Hungry guests could scoop up the eggplant spread with a piece of grilled pita; slimming friends could use a celery stalk or a big slice of carrot.
There wasn’t much to making it. Peel and slice the eggplant, red peppers, onions, and garlic. Mix them up with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 45 minutes. No problem to cut the olive oil a little to trim fat calories. As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”
Dave and I both tasted the just-roasted eggplant mixture and decided we loved it just like that and would serve it another day with rice or a chop sometime. The recipe, however, called, and I threw the roasted vegetables into the food processor with some tomato paste borrowed from my next-door neighbor.. ((What would we do without neighbors?)
The day was so pretty I took the work bowl outdoors to photograph it in front of my Russian Sage–which is each year but this one typically full of bees. Only one or two right now. Very sad.
And the finished dish…..
So what did we think? I have to say we loved it. I doubled the recipe as I had neighbors coming over for a glass of wine on the deck, but I think I would always double it. Extras could be used for omelets, stirred into hot pasta, or spooned on top of rice or beans. One thought: if you like things spicy, you might add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. I like things mildly spicy–I want to taste the food first– and just added a bit — not much– more black pepper as I thought it fit so well with the eggplant. Try this:
roasted eggplant spread
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded
- 1 red onion, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.
Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper
Readmore at the food network site.
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ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:
The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe. This month we have appetizers, next month is Salads, Soups and Sides.
Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:
- Ansh @ Spice Roots
- Barbara @ Moveable Feasts
- Bhavna @ Just a Girl From AAmchi Mumbai
- Chaya @ Bizzy Bakes
- Linda, @ Tumbleweed Contessa
- Martha @ Simple Nourished Living
- Minnie @ The Lady 8 Home
- Mireya @ My Healthy Eating Habits
- Nancy @ My Picadillo
- Peggy@ Pantry Revisited
- Ria @ Ria’s Collection
- Rocky Mountain Woman @ Rocky Mountain Woman
- Veronica@ My Catholic Kitchen
Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you! Want to join in one time a month? Email Alyce @ email@example.com or link in to join us once in a while (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?!
Sing a new song; cook a new appetizer!
14 thoughts on “Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Roasted Eggplant Spread”
It looks delicious and as an eggplant fan, I am sure, I would like this.
I made this for my first INA event, love it. It is such a versatile dip I love using it in between toasted bread too.
I have never loved eggplant, but I don't hate it either. I will have to try it this way and see if it can change my mind. 🙂 I love roasted vegetables so I would probably be like you and love it before it was pureed. Looks delicious.
This is one of my favorite Ina recipes…I've got everything straightened out and my site is okey dokey now…sorry for the scare!xxoo,RMW
Well, Alyce, we certainly are of like minds! I share Ina's appetizer philosophy too, preferring to keep things simple. I'm not sure it gets any better than sparkling wine and potato chips! I'm all about nuts, olives and bits of cheese. One level up from that would be skinny dips and spreads like this one that can be enjoyed without guilt. As she says in her headnotes, "It's good and good for you."Next time I will follow your lead and make a double batch!Till next time…
@rmw. Glad you're all set. Phew!!
Eggplant dips are my favorite snack. I love how easy and versatile they are. Hope you are enjoying your vacation.
@Peggy Try it; you'll like it!
@justagirl That's right. Toasted bread–sounds lovely. I'm on Weight Watchers, so I only get so much toasted bread–but I think it would be worth it.
@Chaya I adore eggplant, but my husband really loves it. He's crazy about this.
Just now home from trip and will go see everyone's posts.
I am looking forward to trying this eggplant dip. But, really I can't wait to try it just roasted with the onions and peppers!
What a great eggplant recipe for #Ina Friday. Looks super tasty.
Alyce,I'm finally getting around to visiting everyone's post after getting home from vacation. I'm going to make this dish this week-end. What a time saver! I usually do this on the cooktop. The oven is much less hassle.