This lovely dip comes from our friends at Fine Cooking, with slight adaptations. We are fans of anchovies, so for us, that ingredient isn’t optional. In this dip, the anchovy taste is very subtle, providing more of an umami layer, which makes the dish more compelling. If you’re uncertain about it, on your first try of this recipe, replace the whole, mashed anchovy filets with a teaspoon of anchovy paste, which will give you less of the anchovy.
2 lb. eggplant, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
1 clove garlic
1 can cannellini beans (13.5 oz), drained and rinsed
2 T fresh lemon juice; more to taste
6 T olive oil
1 T chopped fresh mint, plus 1 T small leaves for garnish
2 t chopped fresh oregano
2 T pine nuts, toasted
Position a rack 4 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with oil. Rub the eggplant all over with 2 T of the oil. Arrange the eggplant, flesh side down, on the baking sheet and broil until the skin is charred and the eggplant flesh is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if using anchovies, mash them into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Roughly chop the garlic, sprinkle it with a generous pinch of kosher salt, and mash it into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Transfer the anchovy and garlic pastes to a food processor and add the beans, 3-4 T of the oil, and 1 Tbs. water. Purée until smooth. When the eggplant is done, set it aside to cool briefly. Scrape the eggplant flesh from the skin and add the flesh to the puréed beans in the food processor, along with the lemon juice, chopped mint, and oregano. Pulse briefly to form a chunky dip. Adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with the pine nuts and mint leaves, with toasted pita crisps on the side for dipping.