Eggplant Caviar

1 lb. eggplant
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup green pepper, destemmed, deseeded, and diced
1 1/2 T. olive oil, divided
1/3 cup green onion, sliced
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. pine nuts
2 T. black olives, sliced

Using a fork, prick the skin of the eggplant in a few places. Place the eggplant on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until soft and starting to collapse. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and set aside to cool. In a non-stick skillet, saute the mushrooms and green peppers in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the green onion and garlic, and saute an additional 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Allow vegetables to cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the stem, and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the soft flesh of the eggplant into a food processor or blender. Discard the skin of the eggplant. Add the sauteed vegetables, along with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice, salt, or pepper, if needed. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Place the pine nuts on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Decorate the top of the eggplant caviar with the sliced olives and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve with your choice of vegetables, crackers, bread slices, or pitas.

Yield: 1 1/2-2 Cups

*Serving Suggestion: To make a Mediterranean Appetizer Platter, prepare one recipe each of: Eggplant Caviar, Roasted Red Pepper Strips, Zesty Garlic Marinated Olives, and Cumin Crisps. Place the Eggplant Caviar, Roasted Red Pepper Strips, and Zesty Garlic Marinated Olives in decorative glass bowls. Place the bowls in crescent pattern on a platter and arrange the Cumin Crisps in the remaining space on the platter. Serves 4-6 people as an appetizer or as part of a buffet.


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