In Mediterranean and North African cuisines, there are many versions for eggplant salads that start with roasted eggplant that is further cooked with additional vegetables and flavorings, and served at room temperature.
In the recipe here I “mixed and matched” my own version.
For another tasty option, I added Tahini (sesame paste) to half of the amount. Both versions have strong lemony flavor, which goes so well with the cumin and the cilantro.
If you prefer more subtle flavors, simply adjust the lemon and spice level according to your taste.
The salad is very versatile – it can be served as is, as a side dish for meats or fish, as a dip or as a sandwich spread. Mixing it with Tahini (sesame paste), contributes a nutty flavor and a thicker texture.
Both versions keep well, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks, so it’s worth it to make a fairly large batch. Make sure to bring to room temperature and mix again before serving.
* When buying an eggplant, choose one that is plump, with a tight skin, and is fairly heavy.
Makes: about 5 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes
Roasting time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 large eggplants
2 Tbs olive oil
½ large green-red pepper, diced
½ jalapeno pepper, diced small
1 ½ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
4 large cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 tsp cumin powder
Juice from 1 medium lemon
For the Tahini version:
2 Tbs Tahini
4 Tbs water
1. Roast the eggplant: preheat the oven to 420F (215C). Place the eggplants in a pan and roast for about 30 minutes, until the skin breaks and the flesh is soft. (Other options – roast directly over a grill or a gas flame, or use the broiler option, if you have one in your oven.) Let cool a bit, cut off the ends and carefully removed the charred skin.
2. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pepper, jalapeno and 1 tsp salt. Mix and fry until the peppers soften a bit. Add the garlic and fry for half a minute. Add the cleaned roasted eggplant, the cilantro, tomatoes, ½ tsp salt, cumin and lemon juice, and mix gently. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes, mixing gently occasionally, until most of the liquids evaporate. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Cool to room temperature and serve.
3. For the Tahini version: in a bowl, mix the Tahini with 3 Tbs of the water. Don’t worry if it will look like it is not mixing immediately – keep on mixing and it will. Add half of the amount of the cooked salad and mix gently. Add the additional tablespoon of water and adjust seasoning if needed.