A creamy dreamy dip to serve as a starter on any occasion, this eggplant ricotta dip comes together in less than 30 minutes and delivers a delicious combination of flavours. Soft baked eggplants are mixed together with ricotta, tomato paste and chili oil. Top with roasted shaved almonds for both flavour and crunch.
Eggplants are so versatile, and baking is my favourite way to prepare them. A good roast in the oven will bring out their flavour at the fullest while also delivering a wonderfully creamy texture. In this eggplant dip recipe we are cheating to cut on the preparation time. Before finishing off our eggplants in the oven, we pan fry them for a few minutes. This way we can get our eggplant ricotta dip to the table in less than 30 minutes!
The perfect baked eggplant
My favourite Japanese dish has neither fish nor rice. It’s an eggplant dish. When I visited Australia (and New Zealand) I got the chance to explore many Asian dishes that we just don’t get here in Sweden. One of them was Nasu Dengaku – Japanese miso-glazed eggplant. I loved it from the very first bite. The flavour of the miso glaze was completely novel to me, but what sold me was the perfect texture of the eggplants. Oh, I love eggplants.
As soon as I came back from Australia I’ve been replicating this eggplant recipe at home many times. I swear by the nasu dengaku recipe by Pickled Plum. It is perfect, and I strongly recommend it if you want to make nasu dengaku at home. And it’s also the recipe that taught me the combination of pan frying and roasting eggplants! A quick way to get the most from both the flavour and the texture of this vegetable. Just what we want in this eggplant ricotta dip recipe!
Eggplant dip ingredients
The ingredients to make this eggplant ricotta dip are:
- Eggplants – we are aiming for 300 g when cooked (2 medium eggplants)
- Vegetable oil – to pan-fry the eggplants
- Tomato paste – double or even triple concentrate
- Chili oil – I discard seeds and chili bits, but it’s your preference if you want to include them
- Ricotta – this is what gives the creamy dreamy factor
- Salt – just to enhance the flavour of this otherwise pretty sweet dish
- Roasted shaved almonds – as a nice finishing touch
How to make eggplant ricotta dip
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) so it gets to the right temperature by the time the eggplants are ready to go in. Cut the eggplants lengthways and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern. Set a skillet on high heat and warm about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Place the eggplants in the pan, skin facing down. Cook them for a few minutes, until the skin begins to brown. Flip the eggplants so that now the cut is facing down. Be very cautious because you are handling a watery ingredient in hot oil. Use long tongs or an oven mitt if your tools are too short and watch out for hot oil sprays. Lower the heat to medium-high and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
Move cooked eggplant to an oven tray with the cut facing up. If you can not fit all 4 eggplant halves in the same pan, repeat the same procedure with the second eggplant. Once you have both eggplants on the oven tray, place it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the eggplant is in the oven, stir the chili oil and the tomato paste in a bowl. There are various ways to find chili oil. The one I use is homemade and it’s the typical chili oil you’d find in an Italian house. Dried chili peppers from southern Italy are added to a bottle of olive oil. The chili bits and seeds are on the bottom and I never dig them up to use. There are other varieties of chili oil that have more bits in them. The choice is yours as per what kind of chili oil to use. Same when it comes to having any chili bits and seeds or not.
Take the eggplants out of the oven and pat them with kitchen paper to absorb any water that may have built up in the flesh. Gently scoop out the flesh from the skin, it should come off very easily. Transfer scooped up eggplant flesh to a bowl and roughly mash it with a fork. Stir in the tomato paste and chili oil mixture. Add the ricotta and salt and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and top with roasted shaved almonds.
Ho to serve this eggplant ricotta dip
I have served this dip, along with other sauces, as a starter platter together with grissini, pita and crispbread. You can also spread it on top of toasted bread to serve as crostini. I can see this eggplant ricotta mixture work great as pasta sauce, too. Other great dips you can serve are:
- Baba ghanoush, a combination of roasted eggplant and tahini
- Vegan sundried tomato pesto with lemons and capers
- Beetroot hummus to give your platter some bright colours
The addition of chili oil gives flavour and a kick to a dip that would otherwise be very mild. I am not a huge fan of hot spicy dishes, but a hint of chili marries so wonderfully with the flavours of eggplant and tomato. Basically, you get a very traditional flavour combination from the south of Italy. If you’re not in for too much of a kick, just add less chili oil. If you want to skip the chili oil altogether you will have a very mild dip. I’d recommend adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a dash of crushed oregano just to give it an accent.
Eggplant ricotta dip
A delicious and creamy eggplant ricotta dip with a hint of tomato and chili oil.
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp chili oil
- 100 g ricotta cheese
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp roasted shaved almonds
Halve the eggplants lengthways and score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern. Warm up the vegetable oil in a pan on high heat and place the eggplants with the skin facing down. Cook a few minutes, until the skin starts to brown.
Flip the eggplant halves (careful as they may release water that could make the hot oil splash), cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook covered for 3-4 minutes. When cooked, place the eggplants with the cut facing up on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.
Combine tomato paste and chili oil in a bowl.
When the eggplants are done, pat them with some kitchen paper to absorb any water that may have collected within the flesh and proceed to gently scoop up the cooked flesh separating it from the skin. Add cooked eggplant flesh to a bowl.
Gently mash the eggplant flesh with a fork, then stir in the tomato paste and chili oil mixture.
Add the ricotta and salt and stir to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and top with roasted shaved almonds.