Eggplant is so often buried in other food flavors – in ratatouille, in eggplant parmigiana, baba ganoush. But I like eggplant. And I think they are decorative on the counter in shades of purple, white & green. They are excellent grilled: slice about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick, sprinkle with garlic power and grill until tender.
And then, several years ago, one of our students at work introduced me to the smittenkitchen blog (by now, she’s been on NPR and has a book – but the blog still has great recipes & photographs!). I found an eggplant salad/bruschetta on the site and simplified it a bit, mostly because I didn’t have all the ingredients. Basically it’s roasted eggplant, but because it’s cut into small squares first, it crisps up on the outside and loses any of that mushiness. Unless the eggplant is young and tender, I often peel some of the skin off. It’s good tossed on top of a salad, heaped on toasted baguette slices or study wheat crackers, or even as a little side dish.
1 medium eggplant, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for oiling baking sheet
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 scallion, thinly sliced (or about 2T. thinly sliced/diced onion)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet or roasting pan. Toss eggplant, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and a generous amount of black pepper together in a medium bowl until evenly coated. Spread on prepared baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, moving pieces around occasional so they evenly brown.
For a cold salad, let the eggplant cool a bit before mixing it with red wine vinegar, feta and scallion. For a warm salad where the feta glues itself to the eggplant a bit, toss the vinegar, feta and scallion together when the eggplant just comes out of the oven. You’ll want to eat the warm salad quickly.