Many fine, international cuisines have their sophisticated, standard butters offerings for particular dishes. Butters you can purchase are garlic, herb, chili lime, pumpkin, truffle, cinnamon, cocoa coconut, roasted garlic, tomato chipotle, lemon pepper, caramel sea salt or maple. Some claim eggplant butter’s creamy taste seems umami-rich, a high compliment. Use them to finish grilled meats, in salads, roasted vegetables, stir frys, top baked potatoes or as a dip for roasted chips.
Actually, compound butters can be a project of your own imagination by adding finely chopped accent foods, herbs, condiments or aromatics softened homemade or purchased butter. Whip the mixture until desired smoothness, reform the mixture into a log shape, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm.
Some confuse baba ghanoush and hummus, and along comes eggplant butter. What’s the difference in each?
Baba ghanoush, popular in the Middle East, Brazil, and West India, is enjoyed as a dipping appetizer with rice or pita. It is made with eggplant and garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice and optional yogurt. It is frequently seasoned with Zaatar seasoning, a mixture of thyme, cumin, coriander, toasted sesame seeds, sumac and optional chili flakes. Quite differently, hummus has a chickpea, or garbanzo bean base with lemon, garliic, cumin, tahini and olive oil.
We run the eggplant butter recipe below which contains eggplant as its base, butter, lemon, olive oil, capers and an anchovy fillet.
RECIPE FOR EGGPLANT BUTTER
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.), stemmed and peeled
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest plus 1 tsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 anchovy fillet
Cut eggplant lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slabs. Lightly coat eggplant with cooking spray. Preheat grill or large grill pan coated with cooking spray to medium-high (about 450°F). Grill eggplant, uncovered, until tender, about 6 minutes per side. Cool 10 minutes. Coarsely chop eggplant.
Process chopped eggplant, butter, zest, juice, oil, capers, salt, and anchovy in a food processor until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in refrigerator, and bring to room temperature before serving.
Flavored butters have a shelf life of 9 months in the freezer, 3 months in the refrigerator.
Alternative oven eggplant preparation: Half eggplant, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast cut side down in 350 F. oven until tender or approximately 30 minutes.