Roasted Eggplant Salad

Salata de Berenjena Asada

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    6 to 8

    as part of a meze assortment

Appears in

Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean

Sephardic Flavors

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 2000

  • About

You may recognize this Mediterranean classic as eggplant caviar. Some recipes combine the puréed eggplant with part yogurt and part olive oil for a creamier result, and a few add a bit of tahini. A baroque version calls for the addition of chopped roasted peppers, walnuts, yogurt, and farmer or feta cheese (see variation). But this recipe is the simplest and most widely served Sephardic eggplant salad. Once the eggplants are roasted, discard any large seed pockets. This will reduce your yield, but the seeds are bitter and add an unpleasant texture to the smooth salad. To keep the eggplant white, a point of pride in Turkey, soak the hot cooked pulp in acidulated water until it cools. In La table juive, Martine Chiche-Yana recommends serving this dish as part of the Sukkot table.

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 large globe eggplants (about 3 pounds total)
  • 2 or 3 lemons, or more to taste
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, green sprouts removed and minced (optional)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • cucumber or tomato slices (optional)
  • crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • pita bread, cut into quarters if large, halves if small, and warmed

Method

For a smoky taste, preheat the broiler and broil the eggplants, turning often, until they are very soft and have collapsed, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, cook them slowly on a stove-top cast-iron griddle, turning them often. You also can bake them in a 400 degrees F oven until they are soft throughout, about 45 minutes. Transfer the eggplants to a colander. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice. Set the juice aside and put the peels into a small bowl of cold water along with a few extra drops of lemon juice. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, strip away the skin and discard large seed pockets. Place the eggplant pulp in acidulated water. This helps the eggplant stay white. After a few minutes, drain the eggplant pulp and squeeze dry, then place in a bowl.

Mash with a fork, then mix in the olive oil, reserved lemon juice, salt, pepper, and the cumin and garlic, if using. Cover and chill well.

To serve, garnish with the parsley and with the cucumber or tomato slices and/or feta cheese, if you like. Set out pita with the salad