Charred eggplant, pistachio and pine nut dip

Smoky eggplant dip

Smoky eggplant dip

Yesterday after dinner Malcolm and I went for a walk on the other side of the canal. The last time we’d gone that way, we’d lost Clio. It had only been for a few minutes, but long enough that I got that sinking feeling in my heart, long enough that Malcolm took off in a teary panic, feeling guilty because he’d dropped her leash. Last night I told Malcolm about my dream that Clio ran away, and in my dream I knew my favorite sound in the world was the jingle of Clio’s collar approaching through the fearful silence of having lost her. Malcolm started to think about his favorite sound. First he said it’s the sound of an airplane when it sounds like thunder a few days before your cousins visit. Then he said it’s the sound of a motor boat when your head is under water because it makes you feel…no, that’s not the right word. “What? What word?” I want to know the word for how a motor boat heard under water makes you feel, but he won’t tell me because that’s not his favorite sound anyway. He says, emphatically, it’s Isaac’s laugh. Not his fake laugh, but the laugh that fills up his whole body like it’s helium, so that he could float away on the laughter, the laugh that makes him glow. He said it’s a sound that makes you laugh when you hear it. And it is! And then he said he also likes a certain sound in combination with a certain smell, first thing in the morning. The sound is the bird that goes who who who whoooo. (“A mourning dove?” “Yeah.”) And the smell is water but sweet water. And he said he also likes a certain smell that smells like autumn, when you’re warm inside your coat but your cheeks are cold. I wanted to remember every word, but I knew I wouldn’t, and I made him repeat everything over and over, and it was slightly different every time, and it’s slightly different now when I write it all down. And though it’s changing all the time, I know now that I’ll never forget it.

What’s your favorite sound in the world?

Smoky eggplant dip

Smoky eggplant dip

On Monday the boys cooked every single meal over a campfire in the back yard. They made veggie sausages and toast for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch, and potatoes and mushrooms for dinner. My friend Neil had just told me about a Romanian eggplant dip made with charred eggplant, so I decided to make a version of that. I wrapped an eggplant in foil and cooked it right in the fire for about an hour, till it was melting inside and charred outside. I combined it with pistachios, pine nuts, some herbs, some roasted garlic, and I made thick smooth sauce. We ate it with olive bread and fresh tomatoes, but it would be good with pita and salad, or as a dip for roasted vegetables or chips.

Here’s Autumn Sounds by Jackie Mittoo

1 medium-sized eggplant
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pistachios
1 clove roasted or toasted garlic
1 slice bread, soaked in water
pinch fresh rosemary
a few fresh sage leaves
1 t balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and lots of black pepper

If you’re going to cook the eggplant in a fire or on a grill, cut the top off, and then slice through it in a cross formation, but not all the way to the bottom. You want it to hold together. Drizzle a little olive oil into the center of the cuts. Close up the eggplant and wrap loosely in foil. Put on the grill or next to the flames of your campfire. Cook for about an hour, till the eggplant is completely soft and collapsed. If the skin gets charred that’s fine. You can also cook the eggplant in an oven for about the same time (400, maybe?)

Put the cooked eggplant in a colander and let cool. Peel the eggplant.

In a food processor combine the nuts, bread, rosemary and sage. Process until coarse and crumbly. Add the eggplant and balsamic and process until quite smooth. Add the oil in a slow stream with the motor running. The mixture should be quite thick and silky smooth. You can add a touch of water if it’s too thick for your liking. Season well with salt and pepper.


13 thoughts on “Charred eggplant, pistachio and pine nut dip

  1. Well, apart from any sound that any of my grandsons make ever (including “Grandma! I need a poo and it’s VERY URGENT!” from Ellis last week at Whipsnade Zoo…) it’s that really loud chitterchitterchitter noise that means a gang of long-tailed tits (my favourite bird) is about to descend on my garden feeders. Such tiny birds, and SUCH a loud noise!

  2. I love hearing a skylark singing on the moors, water bubbling up from an underground stream or river and my children talking to each other when they’re playing. If I still had a cat I think purring would also be involved. I love reading about your sons poetic thoughts and the recipe looks interesting too.

  3. It’s an honour to get a shout-out on Outoftheordinary! Will definitely be charring an eggplant or two in the next week to celebrate.
    I think my favourite bird-song would be the tui, or bellbird. The bellbird is purer in tone but the tui has a fantastic mix of sweetness and grungy coughs or grunts.
    Here I love the scream of the swifts as they race overhead, it seems to signify sheer delight at their speed and manoeuvrability. And though we have no cat, our dog purrs. Or she sort of grunts when she inhales, when she’s feeling particularly pleasurable. Which is quite often.
    I feel like I’ve done my day’s work when I sit down and the dog is purring.
    I miss the sound of waves a lot, but as compensation here- on warm evenings- we have the low murmur of voices on surrounding balconies.

    • I like the swifts, too. We have them all summer, so it’s a summery sound, and I’ve certainly been jealous of their speed and aeronautical skills. I’d never heard the bellbird, and it’s lovely.

      Clio sings, which is Isaac’s favorite sound in the world. She doesn’t bark or growl very often–maybe a dozen times in the two years we’ve had her. But when she’s nervous or excited, she yawns, and when she yawns she makes a lovely song. I tried to capture it on camera, but she just gives me a look like, Yeah? What do you want? I’d love to hear a dog growly purr.

      We’re going to the shore tomorrow for the weekend, 1 block from the ocean, and you can hear waves all night. If they still made walkmen and cassettes, I’d record some for you. I can imagine that German in low voices would sound like waves. Anyway…beautiful thought, that voices sound like waves. I wonder if English sounds like German if you don’t know it well. Whispery.

      • Whispered German always reminds me of Wings of Desire, which I saw before I could speak the language, there was a stillness and profundity to the dialogue in that film which stays with me whenever I hear the language on barely audible terms.
        Hope your beach weekend was enjoyable; looking forward to our own annual beach fix in a week from now, in Sardinia.

      • It was nice. Quite short, went very quickly, but we got some swimming in, which is always a major accomplishment for me, because I’m afraid of swimming in the ocean. The boys had fun, which is what it’s all about these days. No TV, video games, or DVDs, but they got three new Asterix books, and spent the days with their noses buried in those. I’m always glad of a vacation that includes Clio. I hope you have a nice time in Sardinia! I’ll bet it’s beautiful there.

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