French eggplant caviar is my favourite eggplant dip – yes, I like it even more than baba ganoush. Perhaps because it is more subtle and doesn’t overpower other food, or perhaps because it’s an excuse to eat white French bread. I also like that it can be a quick lunch at home with some tomato salad, or served at a fancy party because it has the word caviar in it. Whatever the reason, I make this all the time when eggplants are in season.
There are as many versions of this dip out there as there are cooks. For this reason I don’t claim that my version is authentic, because really, who knows? I do however claim that it is full of creamy, garlicky, herby deliciousness. Spread onto thin slices of toasted baguette, it is just heaven.
2 large eggplants
1 whole head purple garlic
2 small French shallots, very finely chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for garnish
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Sea salt to taste (approx 2 tsp)
1 – 2tsp freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, to garnish
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C
2. Prick the eggplants a few times with a fork evenly over the surface. Place the eggplants on the stove directly on the flame and char the skin. We don’t want too much smoke for this recipe, so once the skin is all blackened and soft, it’s done (if you don’t have a gas cook top, you can skip this step). Place the eggplants onto an oven tray.
2. Slice the whole unpeeled head of garlic in half along the equator. Drizzle with a little olive oil and some salt and wrap in foil. Place the garlic and the eggplant into the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the eggplant is very soft.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan over a very low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent
4. Remove the garlic from the foil and squeeze the flesh into a bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt and mash with a fork until fairly smooth. Add the olive oil and onions, lemon juice and parsley and mix well.
4. Scrape the eggplant out of its skin and into a separate bowl. Mash with a fork until fairly smooth and add the oil mixture. Mix well and season generously with sea salt and black pepper. Place into serving dish and garnish with some finely shredded basil. Serve warm or at room temperature with toasted bread.