Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eggplant Salads

Two of them, which go well together and are easy to make at the same time, so I just threw the recipes together here. They're based on ones from Joan Nathan's cookbook The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, which contains lots of things that are nice even if you're not Jewish and even if it's not a holiday. You do probably need at least a bit of a kitchen, though.

These salads are good for a party or something because they are supposed to be made a day in advance, go well on crackers, and make six cups each, which is a group-sized amount. But you could always halve the recipe if you have a hot date or something. Lucky you.

You will need:

4 regular-sized eggplants (i.e. not the mini ones)
2 white onions
4 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 lemons
6 tablespoons tomato paste
6 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons ketchup
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Cut the eggplants in half and chop them up into 1/2-inch or so squares. Don't bother peeling them, but keep two chopped eggplants in one bowl and the other two in another, since you'll be making two salads, each with two eggplants.

Sprinkle all the eggplant with salt, then pour a lot of oil in a frying pan (probably about two inches of oil will do, but no need to get neurotic about it) and fry it in batches (however much will fit in the pan at once, except don't put more than one bowl of eggplant in together) until golden, which will probably take 10 to 15 minutes. Replenish the oil as needed.

Once the eggplant is cooked, divide again between the two bowls. Which won't be hard, since you were keeping track.

Chop both onions and put one in one eggplant bowl and one in the other. Then do the same with the four cloves of garlic (press them if you have a garlic press, chop them if you don't, then add two to each bowl).

Here's where the salads get different: To one bowl, add the mayonnaise, juice of three lemons, and salt and pepper to taste. I know I've said this before, but please remember that if you use bottled lemon juice, you will languish in purgatory for all eternity. I'm Jewish so I don't really know and I'll admit I didn't actually read all of Dante's Inferno when I took that Masterpieces of World Literature class, but I am under the impression that languishing in purgatory for all eternity is worse that going to hell. Although I don't see why it would be, at least you're not being consumed by scorching flames or whatever.

To the other bowl, add the tomato paste, ketchup, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix up and put them both in the fridge until the next day.

Personally, I think everyone ought to be encouraged to eat more raw onion, particularly those who have very exciting sex lives. Like why shouldn't they suffer too, know what I mean?



  1. Frying the eggplants in oil sounds pretty heavy. If I can recommend something lighter and I suspect tastier - the traditional Romanian eggplant salad involves roasting the eggplants. You first poke holes in them with a fork, so they don't burst, and then you either broil them in the oven, or if you have access to an open flame, you char-broil them directly on it for a smoky flavour. Once they're soft but not completely wilted, you peel them, put the roasted flesh (which should be olive green) on a chopping board angled over a sink or bowl, and let the liquid drain out for about 30 min. Then, add in your raw onion, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oil while mixing with a hand mixer. It comes out like a much spicier, more exciting baba ghannoush, and it doesn't have that heavy fried oil feel. You can also make the version with mayo and garlic. You can decorate with patterns of sliced tomato and black olives.

  2. Oops, I missed an important step there: after you've let the flesh drain, you have to chop it finely before blending.

  3. Thanks for the tip and I will definitely try that! Once I find my hand mixer, that is.

    With respect to frying in oil, I find eggplant takes pretty well to it as a cooking method. It's often done in Middle Eastern cuisine and isn't unusually heavy. But I know that broiled eggplant is delightful as well.

  4. Hi! I saw this and was shocked to see that someone else is cooking with eggplants! I love making "salata de vinette" - a Romanian eggplant spread/salad. I actually just posted the recipe a few days ago! It is really easy to make and makes a really easy and healthy snack! Let me know if you try it and what you think!

  5. Thanks! I will try your recipe, looks nice and actually pretty similar to Sinziana's! If you try mine, let me know how it goes as well.

  6. OMG! it is the same - i missed that comment! well ... glad to know there are other people out there trying it!