Hello my dear blog! Sorry, I haven’t been here with you in a long time. And it’s not that I have forgotten you. Quite the opposite. I have worked on recipes for you, and I have taken tons of photos to make you beautiful, and been with some amazing food-cooking farm-living creatures to write you some good stories. Yet, somehow, sitting down and writing has been slipping away from me. Maybe it was the summer. Maybe it was the lovely people that surrounded me. Or maybe both. But hey, winter is here and I have no more excuses but to sit inside on a chilly day and write and write and write. So here I am.
And now, about today’s recipe:
Kiopoolu my dear American friends is the Bulgarian word for eggplant dip or Baba Ganoush. Just as the other well know forms/names of a eggplant dip the eggplant is roasted (or grilled) to soften the flesh, then the flesh is scooped and mixed with garlic, olive oil and some acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, and enjoyed as a side dish or an appetizer. I loved Kiopoolu when I was a kid because my dad always grilled the eggplant on a hot summer August night. Then while still hot, he removed the skin with a knife and mixed the flesh in a huge wooden mortar and pestle with some roasted red peppers, grated fresh tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and lots of parsley. I loved the smooth texture of the eggplant dip and the zesty-freshness of the tomatoes and the vinegar. My memory of these times is that my family always enjoyed the Kiopoolu on that hot summer night when all bunch of dips and salads replaced a cooked, dinner just because it was too hot to eat heavily cooked meal.
My version of Kiopoolu is a mix of the Kiopoolu of my childhood combined with my experiences enjoying the different ways of eggplants and dips I had over the years as I lived in the United States or traveled to Greece. What I love about the eggplant as a vegetable is that its flesh is mild in flavor and absorbs and serves as a base for so many other flavors as it holds them together. You can go as basic as salt, olive oil, garlic and acid or, go all the way by adding parsley, mint, walnuts, and roasted peppers. In this recipe, I grilled the eggplants whole which hardened their skin and made it easy to scoop away the flesh and it added that slight smoky-summery flavor to the dip. I used lemon juice and added fresh grated tomatoes for a balanced and complex acidity. I also used both mint and parsley for freshness and mixed everything with fine ground walnuts.
Hope you like it ❤
Kiopoolu – Smoked Eggplant Dip
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
• 2 medium size eggplants
• 2 Roma tomatoes, grated*
• 1/4 cup whole fat Greek or Icelandic yogurt
• 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
• 3 tbsp olive oil + more for serving
• 1/3 cup raw or toasted walnuts, finely pulsed in a food processor
• 2 tbsp finely chopped mint + few leaves for garnish
• 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley + few leaves for garnish
• 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
• Salt + Pepper
• 1/2 tsp Sumac (optional)
* To grate tomatoes: slice them in half and grate (flesh side against the grater) on the largest holes of a grater over a medium bowl until all that’s left is the flattened tomato skin and stem. Discard skin and stem.
Prepare a charcoal grill for medium heat (coals should be covered with ash and glowing red with no black remaining.) Place eggplants 2 inches from heat source. Allow skins to blister and char, turning with tongs until entire surface is blackened and eggplants are completely soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside on a large plate until cool enough to handle and to allow some of the juices to run out.
Slice the eggplants lengthwise and scoop the flesh from the skin into a the bowl of a food processor (it’s okay if bits of charred skin get in there too). Discard burned skins.
Place the remaining ingredients except the sumac (if using) in the food processor and gently pulse until all ingredients are incorporated but still slightly chunky (Do not over blend or you will end up with a baby-food-like puree.) Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, herbs or olive oil per your liking.
To serve, drizzle the dip with more oil and top with mint and parsley leaves and sumac (if using.)
Dip can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chill.