If I had to pick my favourite vegetable (you know, in some sort of life-or-death greengrocer showdown situation), it would have to be eggplant. It’s so meaty and works so well across a variety of different cuisines, from Asian to European to Middle Eastern. It’s delicious baked, grilled, barbecued, fried or used in sauces… It’s the best! Which is why this eggplant salad is one of my favourite side dishes, going perfectly with any meat or fish. Or, add a handful of baby spinach or rocket and serve it as a more substantial salad for lunch.
This recipe is based on a Sicilian dish called a caponata – basically, eggplant meets lashings of garlic, olive oil and red wine vinegar, teamed with various vegetables, herbs (such as basil) and other accessories (pine nuts, olives, capers) depending on who you speak to.
However, this version is stripped way back to make it quick and easy. Eggplant is like a sponge, it absolutely soaks up any oil or sauce you put with it, which is delicious – but not necessarily the healthiest option. I have a non-stick griddle pan which makes it easy to dry fry the eggplant then only add oil in the dressing, but if you are doing the eggplant pieces on a barbecue, then you may prefer to drizzle with a little oil first.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous with the whole aubergine salting process, and hey, one less step is only going to be a good thing, right?!
And finally, although I call this a ‘salad’, it is best eaten lukewarm or at room temperature rather than cold.
- 2 large, firm eggplants (aubergine)
- 1 small handful continental parsley, chopped finely
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp EVOO
- 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Slice your eggplant into discs approx 1cm thick.
- Heat a griddle pan until scorching hot, then grill the eggplant for 3-4 minutes on each side. Eggplant should be soft and have prominent grill marks.
- Put the eggplant in a serving bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes before next steps.
- Add the parsley, garlic, chilli, olive oil and vinegar and toss well. Season with a little salt and a good crack of black pepper, and serve.