Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Ricotta Salata Salad

DH is home for dinner for a few nights this week for the first time in a couple of months. I asked him what he wanted for dinner tonight, and he requested fresh summer vegetables. This grilled eggplant and tomato salad has been one of our favorites the past couple of years. The recipe that inspired my version was published in the June 2007 Cooking Light. I think it may have been our “new favorite salad” that summer.

My version uses all fresh herbs and a little more garlic and olive oil. My big switch is the cheese. Cooking Light’s version calls for feta, but I have always used ricotta salata. Ricotta salata is a pressed, dried and salted version of the more commonly known ricotta cheese that you buy in a plastic tub. Ricotta salata is lower in fat and calories, but has the saltiness of feta. The texture is totally different – it is lighter and drier -- and compliments a summer salad perfectly. Many cooks are not familiar with it, but I’ve never had problems finding it in Boone groceries.

This is one of those recipes that needs great ingredients – perfectly ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, and best quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you are grilling the rest of your dinner, cook the eggplant first. It needs a little time to soak up the other flavors in the salad.

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Ricotta Salata Salad

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup ricotta salata, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Prepare grill.
  2. Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray.
  3. Place eggplant on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender. Cool; cut each eggplant slice into quarters.
  4. Combine eggplant, tomato, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently.
The salad was especially beautiful tonight made with heirloom tomatoes. If you think you don’t like eggplant but have never eaten it grilled, you really need to try this!


sam said...

I am going to try this when the eggplant in the garden is ready to pick. Thanks!

Guinnah said...

This looks really good Lynn...we will be overflowing with eggplant very soon here. I got a late start in the garden but so did our weather so it's all working out :-)