Layered Hummus and Eggplant Appetizer

Submitted by Judy on Sat, 12/22/2007 - 11:51am.

from Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family 

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 to 2 pounds eggplant, shiny, purple, and without bruises
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
Hummus with Roasted Garlic (recipe follows)
1/2 bunch cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, chopped (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
About 8 pita breads, cut into wedges

1. Prepare the dressing: Whisk the vinegar into the olive oil in a small bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Set aside.

2. Cut the eggplant into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices.

3. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. (Use just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.) Add the eggplant, in batches, and fry until it is cooked, browned, and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes per side. (The eggplant slices will absorb as much oil as you give them, but then they’ll just get soggy. They will brown using a lesser amount, so add oil judiciously with each batch. Just be sure not to crowd the slices.) Continue cooking the eggplant, adding more oil as needed. Drain on ink-free paper towels. Coarsely chop the drained eggplant, and transfer it to a bowl.

4. Whisk the dressing, pour about 6 tablespoons of it over the eggplant, and stir. (If you like more dressing, go ahead and use it, but I find this is enough. Reserve the remainder for use as a salad dressing.) Add salt to taste. For the best flavor, let the dressed eggplant slices stand, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour or longer.

5. To assemble the dish, spread the hummus evenly on a large, flat decorative platter. Top with the chopped eggplant. spreading it to within about 1 inch of the edge of the hummus. Sprinkle with the cilantro and toasted pine nuts. Serve with torn or cut pita bread for scooping.

Hummus with Roasted Garlic
Makes about 2 cups

1 head garlic
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Slice off the top of the garlic head so that all the cloves are exposed. Place the garlic on a square of aluminum foil, and pour the 1 tablespoon oil over the exposed cloves. Twist the foil tight, and roast for 40 minutes. Open the foil and let the garlic cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves and add it to the other ingredients. Process until smooth.