It's key to have something on the table, ready to eat, when people walk through the door," says Chiarello. "But you also want starters that carry all those grilled flavors and colors, giving people a little preview of the dinner."
• 8 pita-bread rounds
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
• 2 Italian eggplants
• 1 large yellow onion
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
• Coarse sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
For the baba ganoush, heat a sauté pan over high heat. Add olive oil. When hot, add pine nuts. Don't overcook – the second they begin to show color, slide onto a paper towel to cool.
Toss rosemary into hot oil to crisp. Take off heat, let cool, and mince 1 tbsp.
Mash pine nuts until they form a paste.
Roast eggplant and onion by placing directly onto a very hot grill (pierce eggplant several times first). Rotate regularly until skins are charred and a skewer passes easily through (about 15 minutes). Remove from grill, let cool, peel. Purée eggplant flesh and onion in food-processor, transfer to a skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Simmer, stirring until mixture looks almost dry. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, fold pine nut paste into eggplant purée, and stir in the garlic, lemon juice, and 1 tbsp of the minced, toasted rosemary. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Brush pita lightly on both sides with olive oil. Set onto the hottest part of the grill until lightly toasted, about 1 minute; turn to toast the other side. Remove. Once pitas have cooled, cut into rough triangles.