Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread
Hello there friends,
I had one of those mornings that tougher NYCers would laugh at but that’s left me with a scrunched up feeling in my heart.
I awoke once again just feeling off. Not full-blown sick, but really out of whack. I muscled to the living room to do a low-key Qi Gong DVD, which definitely had me slowing down, centering, focusing, and returning to somewhat a manageable plane of energy. I was feeling calmer, at least, and ready to tackle my morning.
Then the parking situation came.
In my neighborhood we have alternate side-street parking where you can’t park for 90 minute blocks certain days of the week so they can be cleaned. It’s a fun little matrix I now know well. It’s not rocket science (shout out to my friend Tim who is actually a rocket scientist), but takes some planning and moving your car quickly when the cleaning’s done on a street, so that you have a place before your time expires.
So at 10:05 I, feeling very grounded and quiet, took Mitra for a walk around the corner, stopping to tousle with her friends Scrabble and Checkers, before jumping in the car and pulling to a street a few blocks away. There, a few cars were doubled-parked on the narrow one-way street. Double parked! It normally isn’t an issue, though, because they come and move their cars when the time changes. So… you guessed it… 10:20 rolls around, usually when people are slipping in to park and waiting in their cars until go time (like yours truly and 3 other cars), and the squatters are no where to be seen. 10:30, nothing. Two of the other cars want to park and leave, which is now creating a pileup of passing cars, including a school bus that can’t get through. 10:35, still those cars and now the legally parked people are waiting, having pulled onto the curb so people can pass. By 10:38, I’ve dealt with plenty of yelling and honking people who are not happy.
So when the drivers finally come out, they’re met with grumpy people including me, who gives a lady an exasperated scrunch of the shoulders. She fires immediately, “oh, I’m 3 minutes late, kill me!” to which I respond, “actually you’re 8 minutes late and have pissed off about 20 people” to which she responds as she walks to her car “ooh, 8 whole minutes, doesn’t something ever come up for you? Welcome to New York baby, it happens” to which I go “I’ve been here ten years, no welcome necessary, it not an excuse to those 20 people backed up for you” to which she closes “I’ll tell my sick mother you said that”.
I park my car and get out to start walking before she can follow in my direction.
To most NYers, no big deal, right? Neither of us were obscene, and while she was yelling at my open window and looking very pissed off it was kept at that. It was inconvenient, and even if only for 8 minutes, those two people were basically stating that their time was more valued than others. But still, why did I have to engage? I usually assume that people are just having a bad day, or that something came up, and it’s only 8 minutes anyway. What if her mother is really sick and she was dealing with something important? What if she’s having a really low day and I made it lower?
I walked back into my building assessing my actions, not so much concerned at the severity of the situation – in reality it’s not that big a deal – but because I don’t want to present myself that way to the world. I don’t want to be a city-dweller who is insensitive to the fact that there are real people everywhere around me. I want to act respectfully first and assertively second.
Maybe I’ll go leave a note on her car. Just in case she actually cares.
So back inside, I make some coffee and start to work on this dish. A purple-ribboned aubergine called out to me at the market. I don’t normally eat eggplant (they’re a deadly nightshade vegetable and so not good for people with arthritic conditions) but in these cold winter NYC months I need smooth veggies, and lots of garlic, and my apartment smelling like cooking food and love.
To serve, I tried two ways. First, by slicing a sweet long pepper and filling each half with half of the mixture. And just because I wanted to see how it would taste as a munchie appetizer, I piped half into Tostito Scoops and topped with a bit of the chopped pepper. I’m not a huge chip / snack fan, but had some leftover corn chips from our Superbowl gathering (um, yeah Giants!). And when I do eat chips, they’re corn chips.
Already in my belly...
This plate? Yeah, gone by the time I got to typing this sentence.
The spread is both incredibly savory with a huge waft of garlic, but also sweet in the aubergine and the roasted flavor that comes from cooking the garlic in this way. It’s warm and filling without being heavy. And so full of flavor for such a small list of ingredients. I’m not a huge “party snack” fan, but this is definitely high on the list now. And I now have the rest of the head saved for something else (why do I not roast garlic more?!).
And with that, I’m going to get to some real work today. Cooking helps when mornings are cranky, and I’m fortunate to have set up my work lifestyle in such a way that I can go to the kitchen for an hour when I most need it.
Happy Thursday folks.
Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread
Warm, soft, roasted garlic
- 1 small aubergine / eggplant, sliced thin
- 1 entire head of garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste (I used fleur de sel and an awesome 5-spice pepper blend)
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Place sliced aubergine on a cooking sheet and rub with about 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Eggplants/aubergine absorb a lot of oil quickly, so don’t expect it to be coated like most vegetables.
- Place about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small ramekin. Cut off the bottom / root part of the garlic bulb and place cut side down in ramekin, then place on cooking sheet.
- Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping the aubergine halfway. After 30 minutes, check to see if garlic is roasted by gently lifting slightly and pushing down on a clove: if it falls out easily, it’s done. If not, cook entire tray another 8 minutes or so.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Place entire aubergine in a food processor or blender. Pinch out the garlic, and add a few cloves to start (I added 5 and eventually worked my way up to 8 large cloves). Add chickpea and about 2 Tbsp olive oil. Start to process mixture, scraping down sides as necessary and swirling in my oil to moisten as needed. Taste, then add salt and more garlic to your level of taste. Puree until completely smooth.
Smooth, silky, creamy...