Our friends Sam and Patty were over for dinner one night, and I had thrown an eggplant on the grill with the thought of making something dippish. Patty and I stood in the kitchen, combining the smoky, silky eggplant with a little of this and a little of that until we both said, "That's it!" We set out to recreate it one night, me adding ingredients, her taking notes, and both of us tasting. The finished product is inspired by baba ganoush, but the smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar are what really make me want to eat an entire bowlful. —[email protected]'s
Poke holes in the eggplant with a fork and throw it on the grill until it collapses, all smooshy and blistered, with the skin half-burnt.
Pull off and discard the peel (Don't worry about a few charred bits.) and mash the eggplant flesh in a bowl. I use a fork, and leave it just a little chunky.
Add the oil, lemon juice, tahini, yogurt and seasonings. The amounts here are very much approximations; taste as you go until you reach a balance of smoky, spicy, tangy and slightly sweet that appeals to you. (Ooh, and a great tip a friend recently shared with me: If you don't have tahini, a splash of sesame oil will add a similar flavor.)
Drizzle with a bit more oil and sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the dip.
Serve with pita chips or the dipper of your choice.