10/25/2012 05:00 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST

Serve ghoulishly good eggplant and pepper dip before trick-or-treating

The witching season is upon us and little ghouls, ghosts and zombies are preparing to gather their Halloween haul of candy and chocolate. But before they head out the door and begin noshing on sweets, have them eat a healthy treat.

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Dip with Black "Bugs" is a smoky, flavourful dip that can be topped off with toast slices cut in the shape of tombstones. Garnish this baba ganoush-inspired recipe with specks of black nigella, sesame or poppy seeds to resemble bugs.

This would also be delicious served at a Halloween party.

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Dip with Black "Bugs"

Nigella seeds are available at Indian or specialty grocery stores. Black sesame seeds or poppy seeds can be substituted.

Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern or specialty grocery stores. It is a slightly sweet, thick, tart syrup. If it isn't available, substitute equal parts liquid honey and balsamic vinegar.

Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes

Baking time: 45 minutes

1 large eggplant (750 g/1 1/2 lbs), pricked all over with a fork

1 sweet orange pepper

1 onion, quartered

4 large cloves garlic

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) cumin seeds

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) coriander seeds

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) nigella, black sesame or poppy seeds, divided

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) salt

30 ml (2 tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice

250 ml (1 cup) thick plain yogurt (Greek or thick Balkan style)

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) pomegranate molasses

Flatbread, toasted pita or sliced naan, to serve

Heat oven to 200 C (400 F).

Place eggplant directly on oven rack. In a small roasting pan, place whole pepper, onion and garlic cloves and toss with olive oil. Roast vegetables for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, until vegetables are charred and eggplant is deflated (remove garlic and onions as they are roasted; they will be ready before pepper). Remove eggplant from oven with tongs, place in roasting pan with other vegetables and let cool.

While vegetables are cooling, in a small, dry skillet, combine cumin, coriander and 5 ml (1 tsp) of the nigella seeds. Cook over medium heat, shaking pan often, for 2 minutes until fragrant and seeds begin to pop. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind until seeds are crushed, but not perfectly smooth. (Alternatively use a spice grinder or place in a bowl and crush with the back of a heavy spoon.)

When vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut eggplant and scoop out flesh onto a cutting board. Peel, core and seed pepper and place flesh on board with onion and garlic cloves. Roughly chop everything together and scoop into a serving bowl. Stir in toasted seeds, salt, lemon juice, yogurt and pomegranate molasses.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Top with remaining nigella seeds, arranging as "bugs."

Makes about 875 ml (3 1/2 cups).

Nutrition information per 50-ml (1/4-cup) serving: 54 calories; 2 g protein; 6 g carbohydrates; 3 g fat; 1.2 g fibre; 260 mg sodium.

Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada.