Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eggplant Salad

 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

Ingredients: 
  • 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 
Directions:
  1. Preheat a gas grill on high. 
  2. Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with the cooking spray.
  3. 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. 
  4. In the bottom of your salad bowl,  whisk together the vinegars with the olive oil.  Whisk in the garlic.
  5. Add the eggplant, tomato,  cheese, basil, capers, salt and pepper to the bowl and toss gently. 
  6. 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!

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