Every late summer and fall, I’m always so impressed/jealous of all my friends who are plucking the fruits (and vegetables) of their summer-long labors and harvesting the stuff from their gardens. So this year, I decided I would also grow a garden. I would be among my domestic and wholesome friends, picking, eating, and preserving tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, and herbs. That was in April.

In late May/June, I was gone for 18 days.

When I got back to Louisiana, I remembered why I don’t go outside to do things like, say, water my plants.

Right now, the herbs are still alive. I have decided that next year, I will be an avid herb gardener (preferably herbs that don’t care if they get watered or not).

The good news is that I know a lot of people who grow gardens (including my friend Jeni who special-ordered “homosexual” zucchini because she didn’t have any bees to pollinate her traditional zucchini blossoms) and they are always more than happy to share their bounties with me. This is how I came home the other day with a bag full of eggplant.

If not done right, the texture of eggplant can get a little…gross. Also, I am a sucker for roasted vegetables. Also, I am a sucker for dips and spreads. Good news for me? It’s pretty much impossible to mess up roasted eggplant (especially when you puree it after you roast it).

You’ll need a medium eggplant, 2 red bell peppers, 1 red onion, a few cloves of garlic, some tomato paste or oven-roasted tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Seriously, this spread is really and truly super healthy (which will make you feel less bad about it when you can’t stop eating it).

Preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Chop the eggplant, onion, and red peppers into 1″ cubes and place them in a large bowl. Smash the garlic and add it to the eggplant mixture. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss the mixture with your hands until all the vegetables are well-coated. Spread the mixture onto the foil-lined baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the vegetables for 20 minutes. Stir/flip the veggies with a spatula and then roast for another 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and browning.

Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes and then transfer the vegetables to a blender or a food processor. Add the tomato paste (or roasted tomatoes, which is what I used) and pulse until the desired consistency is reached. Serve the dip warm with slices of baguette, sourdough bread, Flatbread, Rosemary Focaccia, Naan, pitas, pita chips, your finger, a spoon, whatever. This would also be an amazing, flavorful vegetarian sauce to toss hot pasta in for a light summer meal straight from your garden (because goodness knows it’s not coming from my garden).

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