EGGPLANT TOMATO CREAM SPREAD
Looks rustic, tastes elegant, feels luxurious!
Makes 2 cups
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 med. eggplant (a little more than 1 lb.), unpeeled, cut into 3/8 inch cubes (no larger)
salt and black pepper to taste
4 fresh Italian (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried oregano
1 t. smoked paprika
very light sprinkling red cayenne pepper
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
salt and pepper
1 French baguette (long, narrow loaf French bread), thinly sliced and broiled on one side till golden, then brushed with extra virgin olive oil
additional smoked paprika
In large skillet, over low heat, heat oil. Add garlic, then cook till softened, being careful not to brown it. If you do brown it, it’s okay, as long as it isn’t burned.
Add eggplant cubes all at once. Salt and pepper, then stir to coat with oil. Raise heat to medium and keep stirring till eggplant begins to shrink a little. Cook 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally (much of eggplant will be soft at this point).
Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, smoked paprika, red cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Stir well, then cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust for salt as you cook. When done, eggplant and tomato will be very soft & mushy–like a spread.
If after 45 minutes there is still liquid in the skillet, raise heat back to medium or medium-high and cook, stirring often till all liquid evaporates and spread is as dry as possible.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add Tofutti Cream Cheese. Stir to completely incorporate, salt and pepper to taste, then cover and refrigerate till ready to serve.
Transfer spread to serving dish. Serve with slices of French baguette, broiled on one side, then brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle entire presentation with a little smoked paprika.
Notes: Purchase ripe eggplant – one that gives in to pressure when squeezed. Cut into small cubes; large cubes will require longer cooking time and will not soften properly.
You only need 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice – any more will make it too acidic. The temptation is always to use more, or to use what you squeezed.
If taking this spread on a picnic where you’ll be grilling out, toast oiled baguette slices on grill for an added charred treat.
Although you can serve this immediately upon making it, it textures thicker and creamier when refrigerated a few hours before serving. Great both ways!