2 to 3hot peppersfinely chopped (jalapeños yield a milder spread)
3Tbsps. sesame oil or peanut oil
3garlic clovesfinely chopped
3Tbsps. finely minced Thai basil
Sea salt and fresh pepper
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Crackers, veggie slices, croutons for serving
To roast the eggplant, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wash the eggplant, coat with oil and season with salt and pepper. Pierce the flesh several times with a fork. Roast until the skin collapses and middle is soft. Let cool. Then peel off and discard the skin and save the flesh.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chopped hot peppers. Set aside.
Heat a wok or fry pan over high heat and heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in the sauce, cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped basil. Taste and if necessary, add some salt and pepper.
To serve: Mound the eggplant in a bowl. Garnish the top with fresh herbs. Serve chilled or at room temperature with veggie slices, crackers, pita wedges, chips or croutons.
Nutritional analysis per tablespoon spread: 20 calories, less than 1 gram protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, 2 grams fat, 75 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.