From lavishly spiced curries to thick creamy baba ganoush, eggplant concoctions never fail to deliver. But that’s exactly the problem, they’re eggplant dishes; they rely on the humble eggplant, too modest to stand up for itself, while giving it very little credit. One almost never hears the phrase “Oh, the eggplant is simply sublime”, instead, we always seem to remark how well the eggplant is spiced, or more degrading, how smoothly it’s been pureed.
Why can’t eggplant just be a concept of its own? (reference to R. Moon)
Here I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Amelia of Simple Provisions for sharing a salad was the answer to my purplish woes.
Oh the eggplant is simply sublime!
Ingredients for the eggplant salad:
2 large Chinese egglant (or Japanese, if certain political strains bother you), diced
100 ml olive or grape seed oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup seedless grapes, washed and pat dry
one generous handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cups chopped Italian parsley
1~2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
To make the caramelized eggplant, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with the oil and season very generously. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, sprinkle on the grapes, then continue baking for another 10~15 minutes, or until the eggplant becomes deeply golden.
Combine the eggplant mixture with all the remaining ingredients, check the seasoning – it should be very harmonious, with smoky notes from the pine nuts, a mellow sweetness from the grapes, hints of light acidity and dark molasses from the balsamic, a burst of green freshness from the parsley and, well, the eggplant that’s too good for words.
Serve warm as a light lunch with some french baguette, or as a first course.