Crunchy and a little hot from the fine slices of raw shallot, smooth textured from the eggplant, this salad has a nice balance of tart lime juice and aromatic shallot oil. It’s one of my favorites: I serve it with any and every kind of meal. It’s also a great dish for a potluck.
Preheat the oven to 450°F or preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-hot.
Prick the eggplants all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet in the center of the oven, or place on the grill rack about 5 inches above the fire. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until brown and very softened. Or if grilling, turn the eggplants to expose all sides to the heat, until cooked through and very soft, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, separate the flesh from the skin and stem: you can either cut the eggplants lengthwise in half and scrape out the flesh, or cut off the stems and then peel off the skin. Place the flesh in a bowl (you should have about 1½ cups). Mash with a fork, leaving it a little lumpy.
Add the sliced shallots, shallot oil, and lime juice, then mix thoroughly. Add the fried shallots, salt, and herbs and mix again. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.
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