I am really not much of a gardener, with one significant exception. Every year for the last 20 or so, I’ve planted a container herb garden. I have a perfectly clear picture in my head of my first –- on the fire escape of my second floor apartment in an old house on Milan Street in New Orleans. I bought a few galvanized tin washtubs and had a friend drill holes in the bottom so they would drain. I only planted the basics – basil, parsley, and a few other herbs. And those plants went crazy. I have never again grown what I described as “basil trees.” I don’t remember what I did with the bounty. I cooked some in those days, but not nearly enough to put all of those herbs to good use.
These days, I have a grand variety of herbs growing on my deck – three kinds of basil, two kinds each of parsley, sage and thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, lavender, Mexican tarragon and oregano, marjoram, cilantro, and mint. On any given night, I use at least three of my herbs in making dinner. Tonight: basil, parsley and cilantro.
Our grilled barbecue chicken pizza was garnished with cilantro from my garden. We all loved the pizza. I made a rub and barbecue sauce this afternoon since we are grilling babybacks tomorrow. I thawed a couple of chicken breasts, covered them in the rub, grilled them, and finished them with the barbecue sauce. The combination of sweet-spicy sauce, smoked Gouda cheese and cilantro was divine!
This grilled eggplant salad with cilantro-chili vinaigrette was the perfect accompaniment to the pizza and a great showcase for my herbs.
Grilled Eggplant Salad with Cilantro-Chili Vinaigrette
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced seeded serrano chile
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into ½ - inch-thick slices
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- Cooking spray
- 1 small red onion, sliced into ½-inch thick slices
- 1/4 cup torn mint leaves
- 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.
- Preheat the grill.
- Combine tomatoes, mint and basil in a salad bowl. Set aside.
- Sprinkle eggplant with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
- Place eggplant on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook 5 minutes on each side or until eggplant is done. Remove eggplant from grill rack and set aside.
- Sprinkle onion with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place onion on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook for 5 minutes on each side or until onion is tender.
- Cut eggplant into bite-sized pieces.
- Add eggplant and onion to tomato mixture. Add dressing and toss to coat.
The salad is a Cooking Light recipe to which I made a few changes in quantities. I also tossed the ingredients together rather than making a composed salad. This is such a healthy recipe (no oil! no salt! lots of veggies!) that I’ll be making it regularly this summer. It would be a great accompaniment to a steak or burger. I am also growing peppers so hopefully next time that ingredient will be homegrown as well.