Our senses can do some very funny things. They can make us see a young woman when we might be looking at an old one. They can turn our wooden pencil into a rubber one. They can make us question whether our parked car is rolling forward – or if the car next to us is just backing up. They can make some people taste soap instead of cilantro, and they can even make others taste avocado instead of eggplant.
Well, maybe that’s just one person. One very special person that I love to pieces and can’t get enough of. One known to say some pretty crazy sounding things, all of which are true and from the heart. No, it’s not Ben. I’m talking about my best friend Lindsay. She’s been around through my entire fat, awkward, “I’m never gonna kiss a boy” stage and somehow always made me feel nothing less than beautiful. And when I did a kiss a boy who turned out to be a really bad one (boy, not kisser), she convinced me it was ok to let him go – that someone else would come along (thank goodness she was right about that one.) She entertained me with endless letters when I went away to camp, put up with three rounds of Titanic in the theaters, and years later taught me the meaning of sisterhood when we joined the same sorority. And, she inspired me to make this guacamole.
Linds, I bet you never heard that one coming.
If there had been no Titanic or bad boys or sororities, there would never been a Passover dinner party, a cozy and sophisticated gathering of best friends forever all grown up with the men we’ve taken along the way.
There would be no Sephardic charoset, enlightening and delighting all as we learned that charoset could be something other than apples and walnuts and sweet red wine. There would be no Moroccan sweet potatoes to argue over, that is, whether they were over-saffroned or not. There would be no roasted eggplant salad flecked with fresh green herbs and stinging with red onion and pungent garlic, passed ’round and ’round the table, diminishing bit by bit. There would be no best friend to exclaim, “I know I’m eating eggplant, but my mouth keeps tasting guacamole.”
I could roll my eyes and correct her (not gonna lie – been there, done that! Sorry, love!) I could scratch my head and ponder why one might taste avocado instead of eggplant (I kind of did that.) Or, I could make guacamole with eggplant. Naturally, that’s the direction I chose.
Why not combine smokey, tender roasted eggplant with creamy avocado to stretch it out and make it a healthier dip? And while we’re at it, why not play up to all the advantages of roasting, a cooking illusion itself, making us taste sweetness and a hint of woody earth where we never knew it existed? I did just that, roasting my garlic, grilling my avocados, and lacing it all with a hint of smoked Spanish paprika for good measure. The result was a guacamole unlike any other we’d ever tasted, unique and expected, utterly addicting. Only possibly rivaled by the one right next to it, the second half of our Memorial Day weekend guacamole duo. (You’ll be seeing that one later on in you Clean Eating magazine e-newsletter, if you signed up!)
But for now, while you can make just this one, I promise you won’t be disappointed. I know because I had six taste-testers, self-proclaimed guacamole experts, going chip for chip, guac to guac, back and forth till they were all gone (poor us, I know) and no one could proclaim a favorite. We’d all agree, however, you’d be crazy not to try this one next time a party arises. Fortunately at this time of year, you shouldn’t have to wait too long.
Smokey Eggplant Guacamole
1 large eggplant, about 1 1/4 lb
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spray a second piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray and wrap the head of garlic inside it. Place this on the baking sheet with the eggplant. Roast for about 50 minutes, turning the eggplant halfway through, until it is very soft and falling in upon itself. Allow the eggplant and garlic to cool.
Meanwhile, heat grill to medium. Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Spray each half lightly with cooking spray, and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until charred. Transfer to a large bowl.
When the eggplant has cooled, slice it in half and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Drain any excess liquid. Roughly chop the eggplant, discarding the large clusters of seeds (it’s ok if some seeds remain.) Place the eggplant in the bowl with the avocado. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins, and place these in the bowl as well.
Using a potato masher of fork, mash the avocado, eggplant and garlic together until well combined and just slightly chunky. Stir in the remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste. Chill before serving.
Servings Per Recipe: 16
Serving Size: about 2 tablespoons, or 1oz each
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 148.8 mg
Potassium 190.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 4.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Protein 0.9 g