Grilled Eggplant Dip

Eggplant can be grilled whole to make a really tasty grilled eggplant dip that's perfectly suited for spreading on crackers. It's also a great filling for pita bread, or can be wrapped in a tortilla.

When choosing an eggplant at the produce section, look for specimens with firm, shiny black skin, and stems that look fresh and not dried and brown. If an eggplant is soft and shriveled, leave it behind.

And take a look at the blossom end of the fruit. Eggplants are produced from both the male and female flowers, with the males containing less seeds. The blossom scar on a female eggplant is relatively long and narrow. The male scar is more roundish and smaller.

To prepare the eggplant for the grill, first poke several holes in the fruit with a fork on all sides. These will allow steam to escape as they cook, preventing an "eggsplosion" from occurring in the grill. Give the skins a coat of vegetable oil to prevent them from drying and place them over direct medium heat. Turn every five minutes or so, grilling on all sides.

When the eggplants begin to collapse and soften, remove them from the grill, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh.

Cheesy Grilled Eggplant Dip

Combine two cups of the cooked eggplant with:

One-half cup grated Parmesan cheese
One quarter cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes
One quarter cup finely chopped red onion
Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One teaspoon minced garlic
One teaspoon salt
One-half teaspoon black pepper

Mix until smooth and serve on a variety of crackers. You can also spread a layer on a soft flour torilla and add some shredded mozzarella cheese and spinach leaves to make eggplant roll ups.

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