Eggplant is one of those foods I was not wild about growing up. My memory is of two dishes served occasionally during the summertime -- my mother's fried eggplant and my grandmother's Eggplant Creole -- neither one of which was something I looked forward to. When I moved to New Orleans in my twenties, I discovered Galatoire's fried eggplant sticks served with powder sugar. Those got my attention. The dish was a lovely treat, but was not one that I felt the need to replicate at home.
Nowadays, I love grilled eggplant, especially in salads. My new favorite is this adaptation of a Cooking Light recipe:
Grilled Eggplant Salad
- 1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups coarsely chopped tomato
- 1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons capers
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat a gas grill on high.
- Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with the cooking spray.
- Place the eggplant slices on grill rack coated with the cooking spray and grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until tender and a little crispy. Let the eggplant cool slightly, then cut each eggplant slice into quarters.
- In the bottom of your salad bowl, whisk together the vinegars with the olive oil. Whisk in the garlic.
- Add the eggplant, tomato, cheese, basil, capers, salt and pepper to the bowl and toss gently.
- Serve the salad at room temperature. It may be made a couple of hours before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
The original recipe calls for feta, but I think that ricotta salata (a dried version of ricotta) is way better. Compared to feta, the ricotta salata is a harder and less salty cheese. I've been able to find it in most decent grocery stores.
This salad is a great accompaniment to grilled steak. Add a baguette and a bottle of wine to the meal and you are good to go!