August 3, 2010
My bounteous midsummer garden basket filled early this year because of the weeks of warmer than normal weather. I grow eggplants and peppers on black plastic to warm the soil, and under row covers to keep the plants warm. Above you see the ingredients for a middle eastern eggplant salad, another recipe from my mother, and now a summer favorite for me. The smaller eggplants are from a variety called Diamond and the larger one is a Galine, both suitable for northern climates.
The special smoky flavor of the salad comes from cooking the eggplant over an open flame, which I am doing here directly on the burner of my stove. If you have an outdoor grill going, I imagine that would work really well. Cook the eggplant, whole, turning it so that it cooks all over, until it is blackened and very soft. I poke a two-tined fork into it in places to be sure that it is done.
Split open the cooked eggplants and scrape out the masses of seeds and discard them. Then scoop out the flesh, chop it and place it in a bowl. Small pieces of skin may stick to some of the flesh, but that just adds flavor, so don't try to remove every last bit.
This salad is good with some finely chopped green pepper, some chopped tomatoes, finely chopped onion (I forgot to put an onion in the basket photo), and chopped parsley. These ingredients are very fluid; more or less of any of them won't ruin the salad. Or you can add cucumbers. To give some idea of amounts, I had about 1 1/2 lbs of eggplant. With that I used: 1/2 green pepper, 1/2 medium onion, 8 cherry tomatoes, about 1/2 cup parsley.
Dress with olive oil and lemon juice, and season to taste with salt. Amounts? I used about 3 Tbs olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon. It should have a bit of a lemony flavor. I made this for friends a few days ago and it was a big hit. We ate it as an appetizer on my homemade sourdough bread; delicious!