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Warm Rainbow Dipping Salad

Warm Rainbow Dipping Salad

This was a very comforting and rather attractive dinner salad -- a cross between an actual salad and a dip. I kept it simple so that the flavors of the vegetables really stood out, but you could add some cumin or hot sauce to the dip, or garlic to the vegetables if you wanted to add a bit of additional oomph.

I have suddenly reached the point at the end of summer when I know that soon all my current lovely seasonal vegetable choices will be curtailed by winter temperatures and am adding them to everything, while I still can. I was craving something more substantial and textural than just a plain dip so I cooked the veggies that I had on hand until just fork tender, popped them on top of my dip and heated up some pitas which used to shovel much of this warm rainbow dipping salad into my mouth...

This will make more than you need for one portion. Throw any remaining veggies into a regular salad for lunch the next day and enjoy the dip as is with pita chips and a cocktail before tomorrow's dinner. I am sure that you have earned it.

3 cups assorted vegetables, cut -- when possible -- into thin batons (use whatever you have on hand, trying to use items of different textures and colors, I used shishito peppers and yellow and red cherry tomatoes from the garden, as well as carrot, red pepper, red onion and corn.)

1 large eggplant

1Tbsp chopped herb of your choice (I used a mix of purple and green shiso from my herb patch, but either basil or mint would work here too.)

1 Tbsp tahini

Juice from 1 lemon

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

Pita or French bread for dipping

Herb oil or grassy olive oil for garnish

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Turn your oven to its broil setting. Quarter the eggplant lengthwise and lay them on the tray. Drizzle each piece with some of two teaspoons of the olive oil.

Place in the broiler and broil for six minutes, turning the eggplant pieces over at the halfway mark. When the six minutes are up, turn the oven to 450 and bake the eggplant for an additional ten minutes. After that, turn off the heat, leave the tray in the oven and leave the eggplant to finish cooking in the oven's residual heat until needed. This will allow the eggplant to become silky smooth and remove some of the excess liquid that it might still contain.

While the eggplant is cooking, cut all of the vegetables and chop the herbs. Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a skillet and add the vegetables. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened but are still al dente. Stir in the herbs and some salt and set aside.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and scrape the flesh from the charred peel. The flesh will come out easily, and it is OK if a bit of the peel remains on the flesh. Transfer the flesh to a bowl and mash roughly with a fork or potato masher.

Add the tahini, some salt and the lemon juice to the bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning before adding a cup of the dip to a plate and spreading it into a circle. Top with what you consider a portion of the vegetables and drizzle with some herb or olive oil. I used shiso oil which I had just made from the glut of herbs in my garden.

Serve with warm pita bread or some good crusty bread and enjoy. Simple yet flavorful.


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