For a long time, I didn’t think it were possible to love eggplant any more than I already did. I loved it breaded and fried and layered with sauce and cheese, but I loved it even more gently sautéed with garlic and rosemary and simply kissed with marinara and mozzarella; I loved it roasted as a side for chicken; I loved its skin and its flesh: I was, and will likely always be, head over heels for this purple vegetable. So when I found a recipe for Eggplant and Feta Salad, I thought it would be a refreshing and safe dinner option. Little did I know that what I was stumbling into was the best eggplant dish I have ever eaten.
I made a lot of changes to the recipe – or at least, a lot considering how simple the recipe was to begin with. I forgot the red wine vinegar, used bottled lemon zest instead of rind, and added some greens as a base. Even with these changes, it was so, so good! I think the best change I made was to decrease the oil and cook it in a grill pan instead of a skillet. From now on, I think I will be doing a lot of eggplant grilling, because it produces the most fantastic texture and flavor – no more soggy eggplant, no more dried out eggplant. Just perfectly flavored, perfectly cooked discs of vegetable ready to be spruced up with – what else? – a little bit of cheese.
Eggplant & Feta Salad, adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
1 large or 2-3 small eggplants
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
handful of parsley, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup crumbled feta
3-4 cups salad greens
Cut the eggplant into ½-inch thick slices and place them in a colander. Sprinkle both sides of each slice with coarse salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the eggplant to sweet. Rinse the slices well under running water, pat dry, and set aside.
Grease a grill pan with the olive oil and heat to medium-high. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning halfway through. The slices should be lightly brown on each side. Work in batches if necessary, and set the cooked slices aside on a paper towel to cool.
Arrange the greens on a serving platter and top with the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and feta.