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Bruschetta with Eggplant Caviar

Bruschetta with Eggplant Caviar
Eggplant caviar is a wonderful spread to make when eggplant is plentiful in summer. The bruschetta can be served already assembled for a casual occasion. For a more formal gathering, present each diner with an individual ramekin of caviar and a plate of toasted baguette slices to make their own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large globe eggplant, about 1 lb.
  •  

For the baguette toasts:

  • 2 baguettes, each cut on the diagonal into
      slices 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata
      olives
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 300°F.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet. Bake until very soft and tender when pierced with a knife and the flesh pulls away from the browned skin, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the eggplant is cooling, prepare the toasts: Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Place the baguette slices on baking sheets and drizzle the slices evenly with the olive oil. Bake until golden on top, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn over the slices, and return to the oven. Continue to bake until golden on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven. When the toasts are cool enough to handle, rub the most golden side of each one with a whole garlic clove.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel it and coarsely chop the flesh. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, chopped garlic and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add the eggplant, olives, cilantro, lemon juice, to taste, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. You should have about 3 cups.

To serve, spread each toast with about 1 Tbs. of the eggplant caviar and arrange on 1 or 2 platters or on individual serving plates.
Makes 48 toasts.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Cooking from the Farmers' Market, by Georgeanne Brennan (Time-Life Books, 1999).