This dish originated in the country of Georgia, where eggplants are plentiful and generally are seedless. There it is called the poor man’s caviar. I use small Italian eggplants to avoid the seeds. I like to serve this dish as an appetizer or dip surrounded by slices of colorful peppers, cucumbers, and crackers.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings or 12 to 14 servings as a dip
4 small eggplants (about 1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a broiler pan with foil.
Place the eggplants on the broiler pan and bake for about 35 minutes, turning once, until soft to the touch.
While the eggplants are baking, heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and transparent. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut in half, scrape off some of the seeds if there any, and pour off any accumulated juice. Scrape the flesh into a food processor, add the onion, and pulse until semi-smooth.
Transfer the eggplant puree to the skillet, add the tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the paste. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.