Whipped Eggplant Spread

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1 large eggplant
1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes, or canned tomatoes, drained well and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pureed
2 tablespoons red sweet onions minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon or more olive oil
2 tablespoons or more red wine vinegar
crackers or croutons

Peel the eggplant if you wish. Dice eggplant into 3/4-inch cubes. Steam until meltingly soft and delicious, perhaps 6 to 10 minutes. Press with your finger first, and finally taste.

Remove eggplant and cool. Wrap in paper towels and wring out excess juice, reserving the juice for possible addition later (or for a vinaigrette or stock pot).

Whip eggplant in food processor (or mash with a fork or potato masher).

If using canned tomatoes, drain well in a strainer and press down on them to extract the most moisture.

To the eggplant add chopped tomatoes, garlic or onions, and seasonings. Blend until smooth.

Blend in olive oil, then vinegar. Taste and add more vinegar if desired.

Chill and serve with crackers or croutons.

The spread is not excellent unless chilled at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. It may be refrigerated up to a week.

Refrigeration Note:
When stored, the spread may exude some liquid. This may be drained through a strainer, if desired.

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups.

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