I discovered eggplant caviar in Provence, where it is commonly served as an hors d’oeuvre with crackers or bread. It is sometimes called poor man’s caviar, according to Peter Mayle, ‘because the aubergine seeds, when looked at with an uncritical eye, resemble the eggs of the virgin sturgeon.’
1 large eggplant
3 to 4 cloves of roasted garlic (my addition, optional)
juice of ½ a lemon
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbls fresh chopped thyme (savory or parsley too, optional)
salt & pepper
You want a bed of glowing super-hot coals in your grill. It is absolutely vital that you prick the eggplant skin all over with a fork before placing it on the grill. Turn the eggplant every few minutes to cook evenly. The skin will soften, and eventually as it blackens the eggplant will start to collapse on itself. It is done when all the skin is blackened (and even blistered) and the veg is very soft and squishy.
At the same time, grill an entire head of garlic: slice off the top ¼ inch to expose the garlic cloves, drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap in foil and grill until the garlic is very soft when pressed. Let cool.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut it open and scoop out the flesh into a strainer. Press out any liquid. Transfer the flesh to a chopping board or food processor along with the roasted garlic. You basically want a mash, so chop by hand or process as you see fit. Transfer to a bowl and add the lemon juice, herbs, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend well and serve with sliced bread or crackers.