Eggplant Season Is Now. Here’s How to Make the Most of It.

Chef Camille Becerra shares her recipe for a roasted eggplant dip that’s bursting with flavor

July 8, 2024 6:49 am
roasted eggplant dip on a speckled pink plate next to a plate of pita and jar of hot sauce
This should be on your summer table.
Gentl and Hyers

Welcome to our summer produce series. Every week until the end of August, we’re highlighting the most in-season fruit or veggie of the moment, as handpicked by the experts at Natoora. You can learn more about the company and how they work with farmers in our first piece of the series.

There are many ingredients I miss in the cold months — perfectly ripe tomatoes, juicy stone fruits, summer squash. But one of my favorite seasons of all is eggplant season. Nothing quite beats the purple produce, whether it’s diced and sauced to make pasta alla norma or stuffed with lamb and pine nuts and paired with a chilled red. Sure, you can typically find the average Black Beauty variety in grocery stores year-round, but the bloated flesh is often flavorless and spongy, even when salted and drained.

But summer eggplant has a subtly sweet flavor that comes alive when grilled, roasted and fried. Suddenly, the farmers’ market is alive with all shapes, sizes and colors — the boldly white striped Sicilian; the squat and round kamo nasu; the long, slender Ichiban; the adorable and aptly named fairytale. Biting into one of these morsels makes the wait worth it every time.

Kamo nasu, japanese eggplant made in Kyoto, isolated in a basket on white background
Kamo nasu, a Japanese-style eggplant
Getty Images

Before connecting with Natoora, I had seen kamo nasu eggplants but really didn’t know much about them. Turns out, they’re pretty great in just about any dish calling for eggplant. “Kamo nasu eggplants are dense and dry, so they stand up incredibly well to frying and will hold texture and shape,” says Natoora brand manager Phoebe Creaghan. “They will not absorb excess oil, which makes them perfect for tempura or in Italian applications like pasta alla norma.”

Even if you can’t find kamo nasu, now is the time to get your summer eggplant fix. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know, courtesy of Natoora:

  • What to look for when shopping: Stem will reveal freshness — look for green stems that are not dry. 
  • How to store for maximum freshness: Keep cold and dry.
  • How to use: Sauté, grill, roast, deep fry
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The Recipe

Even if you haven’t eaten Camille Becerra’s food, you likely know her name. The chef has been cooking in NYC restaurant kitchens for two decades, competed on season three of Top Chef and is currently the chef and partner of As You Are, a modern American restaurant in Ace Hotel Brooklyn. She also just released her debut cookbook, Bright Cooking: Recipes for the Modern Palate, which puts flavorful, nourishing foods on a pedestal. And among one of our favorite recipes is a bright, bold eggplant dip.

“This is one of those crowd favorites that’s also super easy and quick to make,” Becerra writes in Bright Cooking. “Once the eggplant has been roasted, you just mash everything and top it with salsa verde and tahini. Diners tear a piece of warm pita and dip it into the eggplant. It’s so satisfying, very visual and one of the easiest dishes in this entire book.”

Get to your farmers’ market this week while this of-the-moment ingredient is still at its prime.

Roasted Eggplant Dip With Salsa Verde and Tahini

Servings: 2-4

  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 whole anchovy filets
  • 1 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
  • .5 cup finely chopped parsley
  • .5 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • .25 cup finely chopped mint
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. caper brine
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted and cracked coriander seeds (optional)
  • Juice of .5 lemon or 1 Tbsp. preserved lemon purée
  • Zest of .5 lemon
  • .25 cup neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. filtered water, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tbsp. preserved lemon purée or 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice or vinegar
  • .5 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup soft herbs, such as parsley, chervil, chives or sorrel, or rich soft greens like spinach or arugula
  • .5 cup tahini
  • 1 large eggplant
  • .5 cup Salsa Verde (recipe below)
  • 2 Tbsp. Green Tahini (recipe below) or plain tahini, thinned with 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Crunchy sea salt, for sprinkling
  • Flatbread, pita or challah, for serving
  • For the salsa verde:
    1. In a medium-size mortar, mash the garlic and anchovy into a paste with a pestle. (If you don’t have a large enough mortar, you can use a Microplane to grate the garlic into a small bowl and smash the anchovies with the side of a knife.) Add the oil, parsley, cilantro, mint, capers, brine, coriander (if using) and lemon juice and zest and mix well.

    2. Use the same day, or store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

  • For the green tahini:
    1. In a blender, add the oil, vinegar, water, preserved lemon and salt and process until smooth. Add the herbs and tahini and process until smooth. While the blender is still running, add more water, 1 Tbsp. at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for 1 week.

  • For the roasted eggplant dip:
    1. Preheat the oven to 450°F [230°C]. Grease a baking sheet.

    2. Halve the eggplant lengthwise. Place the eggplant cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until soft, approximately 20 minutes.

    3. To serve, transfer the eggplant cut-side up to a platter. Smash the flesh with a fork. Dollop with the salsa and tahini and swirl, then drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with flatbread.


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