This salad has the most wonderful smoky aroma and works well with grilled meat or fish, as well as with other dips and salads. But in order to get the full smoky flavor, you really need to stick to the instructions and allow the eggplants to burn well.
• 4 large eggplants
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• Grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 2 tablespoons chopped mint
• Seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
1. If you have a gas range, line the base with aluminum foil to protect it, keeping only the burners exposed. Place eggplants directly on four separate gas burners with medium flames and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them around occasionally. Alternatively, score eggplants with a knife in a few places, about ¾-inch deep, and place on a baking sheet under a hot broiler for about an hour. Turn them around every 20 minutes or so, and continue to cook even if they burst and break.
2. Remove eggplants from heat and allow them to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cut an opening along each eggplant and scoop out flesh, dividing it with your hands into long thin strips. Discard skins. Drain flesh in a colander for at least an hour, preferably longer, to get rid of as much water as possible.
3. Place eggplant pulp in a bowl and add garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Stir and let marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.
4. When ready to serve, mix in herbs and taste for seasoning. Pile high on a serving plate, scatter on pomegranate seeds, and garnish with remaining herbs.
Find more delicious whole-food dips and spreads in Take a Dip!: Whole-food Appetizers.