Eggplant and Cherry Tomato Salad
Preparation time: 50 min. plus 30 - 60 minutes marinating
Insalata di Melanzane, a wonderful summer dish, very popular all around the Mediterranean when eggplants can be found in abundance. Each region does it a bit differently and each family has its own heirloom recipes. It works best with Italian eggplants, which you may substitute with small globe or Japanese style eggplants. As all the flavor of the sauce needs to soak in, this dish is best made 30 - 60 minutes in advance.
- 4 Italian eggplants or 2 medium size preferably long eggplants, sliced in 1 cm (3/8 inches) thick rounds
- 4 tbsp. olive oil to brush the eggplants
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 500 gr (1 lbs) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 150 gr (2/3 cup) semi-dried tomatoes, sliced into 1 - 2 cm slivers
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- julienne zest of 1/2 lemon (peel untreated lemon and cut the skin into very thin slivers)
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar or high grade red wine vinegar
- 250 gr (1 cup) mozzarella or bocconcini
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 60 gr (about 1/4 cup) pine nuts toasted (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the eggplant rounds on a lined baking tray. Mix the olive oil and the crushed garlic and brush both sides of the eggplant rounds. Season with salt and pepper and roast them on both sides until golden and tender, but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. When done, set aside to cool.
Soak the finely sliced onion in cold water for 10 minutes to extract its acidity. Drain onion well and place it on a paper towel. Place the cherry tomato halves, the roasted eggplants, onions, semi-dried tomatoes and the julienne zest of lemon in a bowl. Prepare a vinaigrette with the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, balsamico vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle it over the eggplant tomato mixture. Add the mozzarella sliced or broken into bite size pieces. Scatter the basil leaves and the roasted pine nuts (optional) over the salad and toss everything gently again. Serve after 30 - 60 minutes marinating (in the fridge) with a crusty bread. A great appetizer or main course.
A great dish for your summer party or picnic.