“Colby is a meat n’ potatoes kind of guy and I’m a failing vegetarian so our menus are always difficult to accomplish successfully. Any advice?” –eHarmony member and ‘Just Married & Cooking’ giveaway winner, Megan
It’s the couples conundrum, “She eats this,” “He eats that” and the two dinner plates never agree. But despite conflicting taste buds, all anyone wants is peace and harmony– and heaping plateful of romance– in the kitchen!
So eHarmony tugged on our apron strings and asked us to jump in and solve Megan’s dinnertime dilemna. Really, it’s familiar territory for me and Jamie. He would eat pork morning, noon and night if I would let him and my dream meal swims & scuttles (soft-shell crab, fish, shrimp, oysters– I love them all). But, somehow, we make dinner together every night and we both leave our perch at the kitchen counter satisfied.
What’s our secret? Vegetables!
Veggie sautees, mashes and purees can bridge the gap between your fish and pasta and his beef and pork. In this case, our silky, full-flavored Smoky Eggplant Puree is strong enough for him and delicate enough for Megan. A heaping spoonful works just as well beneath his pork tenderloin medallions as it does on top of her roasted white fish and bowl of Grilled Vegetable Cous Cous Salad.
Three ingredients are key to our perfect puree: the sweet, roasted head of garlic, the dash of smoky paprika (sometimes packaged as pimenton de la vera) and the hot sauce. And then there’s Jamie’s favorite cooking technique– charring— that gives the whole thing its truly unforgettable, smoky-even sexy- edge. Megan, bliss out this Saturday night with our eggplant puree and tell us what you think!
Pair Smoky Eggplant Puree with: roasted white fish (snapper, grouper, cod, halibut) or Grilled Veggie Cous Cous Salad (zucchini, squash, asparagus with fresh parsley and mint, finished with olive oil and lemon juice)
Pair Smoky Eggplant Puree with: pork chops, grilled pork tenderloin, skirt or flank steak and roasted chicken
Smoky Eggplant Dip
2 large eggplant
1 head roasted garlic* see note
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
a few dashes hot sauce
Preheat the oven to broil.
Adjust the oven the oven rack to the the center. Place the eggplant on a baking pan and roast underneath the broiler. As the skin blackens, turn the eggplant until all sides are well-charred. Remove from the oven and cool. When the eggplant are cool enough to handle, split each one open and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Place the scooped eggplant in a colander and press lightly to extract any excess liquid.
Transfer the eggplant flesh to a food processor, add the roasted garlic cloves, smoked paprika, salt, olive oil and hot sauce. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Taste, and adjust the season with salt and hot sauce as necessary.
Enjoy as dip with raw vegetables or toasted pita chips, as a spread on pita sandwiches or serve with roasted fish or meats.
*To roast the garlic- Cut the top (about 1/8 inch) off a whole head of garlic, so the cloves are just exposed. Drizzle the exposed cloves with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil – making it look like a large, fat Hershey’s Kiss- and bake in the oven at 350˚ until very aromatic and golden brown inside, about 40 minutes.
When the garlic is roasted and cool enough to handle, squeeze the head of garlic from the root end to pop the roasted cloves out of the top.