This Roasted Eggplant Dip (Salate de Vinete) is my version of a Romanian recipe that's great served with toasted tortillas, pita or bread and halved grape tomatoes. Red onions, canola oil, lemon juice and seasonings meld with the smoky, mashed eggplant for a nice vegan, gluten-free appetizer (or lunch).
Make sure you have a rack set in the middle of your oven and preheat your broiler. Rinse your eggplants and dry them (no need to cut off the ends yet).
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the eggplants on the foil. Broil the eggplants for 13-20 minutes, turning every few minutes to prevent them from burning. The eggplants are done when the skins are charred (wrinkly) on all sides, and a fork can easily be inserted into the soft eggplant.
While the eggplants are cooking, peel and chop half of a red onion and set it aside.
When each eggplant is done ( the larger one will take longer than the medium one), transfer it to a paper-towel lined platter or baking pan and roll the eggplant in paper towels to absorb the liquid. After about 10-15 minutes, the eggplants should be cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard the skins. (You can use a knife to do this, but I just use my fingers.)
Transfer the eggplants to a medium serving bowl. Cut them up a bit and scrape away and discard some of the seeds to prevent bitterness. Mash the eggplants with a potato masher or a wooden spoon. Add the red onions and a bit of the oil and stir. Then add the rest of the oil and stir. Add the lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, stirring and tasting for adjustments. Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. The dip tastes best after it is chilled and the flavors have had a chance to meld.
Before serving, give the dip a quick stir and taste for any seasoning adjustments. Serve on toasted tortillas, pita, or bread and topped with halved grape tomatoes.
Some recipes call for processing this dip into a paste in the food processor. We prefer the chunkier texture from just mashing it. The processed version seemed too much like baby food. Also, canola oil works much better than olive oil in this recipe.