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Originally published Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 12:04 AM

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Ask the Splendid Table

'Sweeten' eggplant spread with these tips

Lynne Rossetto Kasper offers a recipe for Roasted Eggplant Spread with Onion and Sweet Pepper that was inspired by Mediterranean food authority Paula Wolfert.

Syndicated Columnist

Dear Lynne: I used to get an eggplant purée in a Middle Eastern restaurant that you dipped pita bread into. It was outrageously fine. I was told roasted eggplant is the basis of it, but when I roast and purée eggplant, it's bitter. What am I doing wrong?

— Displaced in New York State

Dear Displaced: The dip you are thinking of is called baba ghanoush. Whole, unpeeled eggplant roasts on a grill or in the oven until it collapses in on itself and its flesh is totally softened.

The next step may be the one you aren't aware of. Once the eggplant has cooled a bit, slit it down the center so you can open it up like a book and lay it, flesh side down, in a colander in the sink so all its possibly bitter juices can drain away. This recipe should give you some of what you've been missing.

The addition of peppers and onion was inspired by a recipe by Mediterranean food authority Paula Wolfert. You could leave them out and cut the garlic back to 1 clove (adding the second one if you like once you have tasted the finished recipe). Serve the purée with pita bread or sliced cucumbers.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table,"American Public Media's weekly national show. The program airs Sundays at 2 p.m. on KUOW 94.9 FM. Contact Lynne at

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