August 21, 2006

Reason #49 to Have a Garden: Turkish Herb Salad with Fried Eggplant

I don't really know if this is authentically Turkish or not. Unfortunately, I don't have that much understanding of the divisions between Middle Eastern foods. Anyone out there who knows if this is the real deal or not? Even if it isn't, it's still delicious.

We first made this salad last summer when it appeared in the August '05 Bon Appetit. I vowed that we would grow our own nasturtium just for this salad and the partner was kind enough to defer to my culinary wishes. I only wish that we had enough space and sunshine to grow everything else for this salad. The mint, chives and flowers came from our tiny plot, but our basil is being devoured by some caterpillars and everything else will just have to wait until we win the lottery and buy a house.

I realize that I am on a huge eggplant kick lately which shows no signs of abating. Tonight we're having eggplant stir-fry, and sometime later this week we're going to have this pizza again. The partner just pointed out to me that summer is two-thirds over, might as well eat all the eggplant (tomatoes, strawberries, melons and summer squash) that we can to hold us over til next summer.

Turkish Herb Salad with Fried Eggplant adapted from Bon Appetit

1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2" thick
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups arugula
1/3 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup parsley leaves
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup chives in 1/2" lengths
Nasturtium flowers, if you have some

Combine shallot and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Lay out eggplant in a single layer on a flat surface. Salt and pepper eggplant slices on both sides. Set aside.

Combine all greens, except for the chives. Wash and spin dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Add chives and toss to combine. Salt and pepper greens.

Whisk 2 TB olive oil and salt and pepper in with the shallot and lemon juice.

Heat 4 TB olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. When hot, add as much eggplant as will fit without overcrowding. You might have to cook the eggplant in batches. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. If the pan looks dry, add more olive oil. Layer a plate with paper towels. When the eggplant is done, remove from pan and place on lined plate.

Toss greens with vinaigrette. Divide salad among plates. Lay eggplant on top of greens. Decorate with nasturtium, if you have them.

Serves 4 people as a starter or 2 greedy people dinner.

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