Recipe: Eggplant Tzatziki - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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Recipe: Eggplant Tzatziki

I love cooking with and eating all types of eggplants, whether they come from a supermarket, farmers market, or my own rooftop container garden. But it seems that not everyone is such a fan. Some people are turned off by the way conventional eggplants, the large purple ones, often have a tough skin, high seed-to-flesh ratio, and slight bitter taste. Small, heirloom eggplants are a great alternative. These cute fruits may be white, green, purple, orange, or red, and they’re sweeter and thinner-skinned than the more common variety. They can be added to stir-fries, stews or curries without being salted beforehand, and they’re quick and easy to sauté, roast or steam.

Recently, I tried a delicious eggplant spread on crostini at a restaurant and have been recreating it at home using long, slender, Asian eggplants. These and other heirloom varieties are available at the farmers market in the summer through early autumn and increasingly can be found at supermarkets or vegetable stands throughout the city. They’re also easy to grow in Brooklyn. I’ve had good luck with them in rooftop containers, and many varieties are thriving this year at BBG in the Annual Border, Spencer Terrace, and Herb Garden. Try them in this easy tzatziki and see if they don’t win you over.

Eggplant Tzatziki

Serves 4
Active Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

  • 8 Asian eggplants (Any variety may be substituted. You want to end up with about 2 cups of strained eggplant flesh after roasting.)
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (low fat or no fat works fine!)
  • A few gloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro or dill, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prick eggplants all over with a fork. Place on a sheet pan and roast until the flesh is soft and the skin turns brown. Average-sized Asian eggplants will take 15 to 20 minutes; medium-sized conventional varieties will take 30 to 45 minutes. Small heirlooms could be done in under 10 minutes. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool enough to be handled easily.
  3. Using a paring knife, remove the stem of each eggplant and slice it lengthwise. Scrape the flesh into a colander or mesh strainer to remove excess moisture and allow more cooling. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the yogurt, garlic, cumin, cayenne, lemon, salt and preferred herb. Process in short pulses until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Spread a generous amount of tzatziki onto crostini, toast, or crusty bread and garnish with more herbs.

Ariel Nadelberg is the chef of BBG's Terrace Café.

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Image, top of page: Blanca Begert