Sweet & Smoky Eggplant Spread (Baklazhannaia Ikra)

It makes about 3 cups, which seems like a lot until you start – and can't stop – eating it on everything from Russian rye bread to pita crackers, on sandwiches, with eggs for breakfast, and with pasta for dinner (add a little chopped parsley and cheese, if you wish).

Photo by Henya B.

PREP TIME

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minutes

TOTAL TIME

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minutes

SERVINGS

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servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

--

servings

Ingredients

  • 2

    large eggplants (about 1 pound each)

  • Olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil for cooking

  • 2

    medium onions, chopped

  • 3/4

    cup (6 ounces) tomato paste

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the center of the oven, turning over once, until soft, about 1 hour. Let the eggplants cool in a colander in the sink, where their juices can drain. When cool enough to handle, press any excess liquid out. (This step helps to reduce any bitterness.) Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh. Discard the peel. Using a large knife, chop the flesh very finely. (Avoid using a food processor, as you want the eggplant to be more textured than a purée.) Add the eggplant to the onions along with the tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a couple good cracks of black pepper. Turn the heat to low-medium and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes. Add more oil as necessary to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. (Be liberal with the oil; any excess will rise to the top as the mixture cools, and you can remove it then, if you wish.) Transfer the mixture to a heat-proof bowl and let it cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. Adjust salt and pepper to taste before serving.

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