Grilled Eggplant-Tomato Dip
with Za’atar Spiced Pita Chips

What do you do with all the eggplant from your garden or local vegetable stand? This is one of my favorite mezze spreads and it is perfect end of summer fare. The eggplant is grilled, which gives it a deep smoky flavor, along with grilled tomatoes, garlic, lemon, and tahini. To complement it perfectly, I made some pita bread crisps drizzled with olive oil and za’atar spice. This recipe is so easy to make and so satisfying, I hope you give it a try! 

Grilled Eggplant-Tomato Dip

(Makes about 4 cups)

  • 2 cups wood chips, preferably hickory (optional)
  • 2 medium eggplants (1 ½ pounds total), trimmed and sliced ½ inch thick
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, about 1 ½ pounds total, trimmed and cut horizontally into thirds
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground toasted cumin seeds or smoked paprika
Oven-Baked Pita Chips with Za’atar
(Serves 6 to 8)
  • 6 round 6-inch white or whole-wheat pita breads, each cut into 6 equal wedges
  • ¼ cup olive oil (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons za’atar spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Dip
  • Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill (medium-high). When the fire is hot, distribute the wood chips if you are using them. Position the grill rack about 6 inches above the heat.
  • Lightly brush the eggplant and tomato slices on all sides with the oil. Lay the vegetables on the rack. Cover and grill, turning the vegetables once, until the eggplant is well browned and tomatoes are lightly browned and very tender, about 10 minutes total. Remove from the grill and cool to room temperature.
  • Roughly chop the eggplant and tomato. In a food processor, combine the chopped vegetables, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, salt, sesame oil and Tabasco and process until almost smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. (Or, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature if chilled.)
  • Stir in the parsley. Adjust the seasoning. Spoon the eggplant mixture into the center of a platter. Sprinkle evenly with cumin or smoked paprika. Serve at room temperature.
  • Note: Though the smoky accent of the grill makes this spread particularly delicious, the vegetables can also be roasted in the oven. Preheat it to 450F, brush the eggplant slices and tomatoes with oil and roast until browned and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and then proceed with the recipe.
Chips
  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F.
  • Lightly brush the pita wedges on both sides with olive oil, transferring them to a baking sheet as you go (the wedges need not lie in a single layer). In a small bowl, stir together the za’atar and salt. Sprinkle this mixture over the chips, stirring and turning them several times as you do so to coat them evenly on both sides.
  • Set the baking sheet in the oven and bake the chips, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned and crunchy, about 15 minutes.
  • Cool the chips on the pan on a rack. Store airtight at room temperature. Re-warm the chips for serving if desired.
  • Note: Roasted garlic-flavored olive oil, available in specialty food shops and some supermarkets, makes a nice substitution here.