Monk’s Aubergine Salad

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This salsa-like salad goes by two native names: the debated baba ghanouj (father of a coquet), and salatet el raheb (monk’s salad). The salad may have gained the latter name because the monks consumed it during Lent.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus roasting the aubergines/eggplants
Cooking Time: 7 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 kg/2 lb 4 oz roasted aubergines/eggplants (see Roasted Vegetables)
  • 1 handful of mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 spring onion/scallion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds from ½ pomegranate
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Toasted Triangles

  • 2 medium-large loaves of bought Arabic Bread, each about 30 cm/12 in in diameter, cut into small triangles
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt

Method

  1. To make the triangles, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Put the bread on a baking sheet, add the oil and season to taste with salt, then toss well. Bake in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until they are crisp and lightly golden, shaking the baking sheet halfway through the cooking time. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside.
  2. Put the roasted aubergines/eggplants on a chopping board. Slice off each crown and squeeze out any juices, then cut the flesh into thin, long strips and then into cubes.
  3. Place the cubed flesh in a large shallow bowl and layer with the mint, tomatoes, parsley, spring onion/scallion and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with extra herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the oil and pomegranate molasses and toss very gently. Sprinkle with the walnuts, if using, then serve with the toasted triangles.