My Smoked Eggplant Salad Recipe

I have an obsession with eggplant. Versatile as it is elegant, eggplant can be as delicate or as bold as you want it to be, and jives extremely well with many different flavor combinations.

Since my last eggplant recipe post was one where it was sliced, roasted, and served with a garlic yogurt sauce, I wanted to share a different technique that’s just as simple, yet gives you a completely different mouth feel. Whole eggplants are chargrilled on the barbecue or roasted in the oven, leaving you with a soft & silky flesh that’s slightly charred on the inside.

I’ve given you two variations of this eggplant salad recipe, one with pine nuts, and one with pomegranate (seeds & syrup). Feel free to play around and use different herbs and spices. I often simplify the recipe and toss it with only spring onions, olive oil, lemon and Maldon Salt. Simple, clean, and delicious.

aubergine salad prep

Serve this salad on it’s own, or as a side dish to a more complex meal (it goes beautifully with white-fleshed fish such as grilled sea bass or halibut). It’s fabulous either way!

note: your eggplant will have a slightly smokier flavor if charred on the barbecue than when roasted in the oven.

Eggplant Salad (serves 4 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • Two medium whole eggplants
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or Maldon salt (you might need more, check for seasoning after assembling your salad)
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ¼ of a small red onion, thinly sliced

For the pine nut variation:

  • ¼ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted on a skillet

For the pomegranate variation:

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (“debs roman” in Arabic)
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F) or your barbecue to medium-high heat.

Start by gently “stabbing” little slits all over the eggplant with a sharp knife (about 10-12 times). If using your oven, place the eggplant on a sheet pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Leave them relatively undisturbed, however you will have to turn them once or twice so they do not burn. You are looking for somewhat of a charred skin – don’t worry if you see black spots. Apply the same method if using the barbecue – you will need to turn the eggplant a bit more often.

Grilled whole eggplant vs baked aubergine

Once cooked, allow the eggplant to sit until cool enough to handle. Gently cut lengthwise in half, and start scraping the flesh away from the skin. Remember to get the black bits of the flesh – this is what will give your salad it’s characteristic smoky flavor.

the inside of a roasted eggplant.jpg

Tip # 1: try to avoid getting the black skin into your flesh, it can give the salad a bitter taste.

Tip # 2: If the eggplant is very “seedy” try to scrape out some of the seeds (not all) to get a smoother texture.

Once you’ve separated the flesh from the skin, drain the liquid over a strainer. The eggplant may contain a lot of water, so let it drain for a bit longer.

straining the aubergine flesh

removing bitter liquid from eggplant

eggplant aubergine flesh in white bowl

Add salt, olive oil, lemon juice, along with the green and red onions. If making the pine nut variation, add them now. If making the pomegranate version, add the seeds along with the syrup. Mix well, taste to check for seasoning, and serve.

eggplant and pomegranate syrup

Eggplant with herbs and pine nuts

aubergine eggplant salad with onion & pomegranate seeds

Bon appétit!

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In my kitchen: roasted eggplant with garlic yogurt & pomegranate

Cook with your hands. I’m convinced that there’s an invisible pipe that goes straight from your heart directly into your fingers, and there’s nothing better than eating a dish that has a little love running through it.

Using your hands teaches you about your ingredients – how things should feel when they’re raw, cooked, and combined. Having said that, there’s probably no food that I manhandle more than the eggplant, or aubergine as many refer to it. No matter what you call it, eggplant is something that I love, and has become somewhat of a staple in my kitchen. Grilled, roasted, baked, or all sauced up – there’s so much you can do with this plump, purple-skinned fruit, yes, its actually a fruit. I am talking about the dark shaded eggplant here as I have yet to try the white variety.

With a bitter taste and flesh that absorbs oil faster than moisturizer on cracked dry skin, cooking with eggplant can be tricky. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent its challenges by learning how to choose your fruit wisely.

Look for eggplant that is light in weight, with shiny, smooth skin free of bruises and blemishes. It should be firm but not hard with a round brown mark on the fat, bottom end – a brown slit on the bottom might mean more seeds.

Some say that you have to salt the eggplant to remove bitterness. If I have the extra time, I’ll add this step, but more often than not, I skip it. I don’t find salting it makes that much of a difference. If you want to try it, cut your eggplant into slices, salt it generously and let it hang out in a colander for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse it and pat it dry before cooking.

Add your oil right before cooking so that that it coats the surface of the flesh – that will help give your eggplant that beautiful brown finish.

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Yogurt and Pomegranate

Serves 4 to 6

For the eggplant:

  • 2 to 3 medium eggplant, washed, dried, and cut into 1 ½ inch slices (salted, drained, and rinsed if desired)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the garlic yogurt:

  • 400 grams plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

To garnish:

  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional), lightly toasted

Preheat your oven to 210 Celcius, 410 Farenheit. Position your rack in the lower third of your oven.

Cut eggplant into slices and toss generously with olive oil.

slicing eggplant

Add salt, pepper, lemon, and oregano.

Place on a large baking tray, and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottom of the eggplant has started to turn brown.

eggplant on sheetpan

Turn the eggplant over and cook for another 15 minutes or until brown and soft. At this stage, you can eat the eggplant as they are (great as a vegetarian side dish). If you want to add the garlic yogurt, keep reading.

oven roasted eggplant slices

For the garlic yogurt:

Combine yogurt with garlic and salt. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

Place eggplant on a large dish or platter. Spoon and scatter the garlic yogurt over the eggplant and garnish with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts (if using).

roasted eggplant with garlic yogurt sauce and fresh pomegranite

Serve warm or cold.

eggplant with yogurt sauce and pomegranite with pine nuts

Bon appétit!

Photos by: Tara Atkinson Photography

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