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.
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)
- 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
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.
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.
* 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.
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.