Servings: 6 persons as an appetizer
Preparation time: 45 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating
The Eggplant – Europeans use the term Aubergine – is my favorite vegetable. It is low in calories and fats and rich in fiber content and vitamins and anti-oxidants. If it sounds like I said it before, I probably did. I have a weak spot for eggplants.
This recipe is an easy, delicious and healthy salad. It can be made in advance. It actually tastes better if eggplants absorb the olive oil marinade overnight. In any case, you need to let it marinade for at least 30 minutes.
Serve as a starter with a crusty bread or pita or as part of a meze. As a side dish, it goes well with roasted chicken or fish.
- 2 medium-size eggplants, cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) cubes
- 1 medium green pepper, sliced into 3/4 inch (2 cm) strips or roughly chopped
- 1 medium red pepper, sliced into 3/4 inch (2 cm) strips or roughly chopped
- 1 medium size onion, sliced into 3/4 inch (2 cm) strips or roughly chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 6 green olives or to taste
- 6 black olives or to taste
- 1 tablespoon capers, optional
- 1/2 cup cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) or Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 cup feta cheese, cut into 2cm cubes, or to taste
- 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or to taste
- juice of 1-2 lemons or to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1-2 medium tomatoes seeded and cut into 3/4 inch (2c m cubes) – optional
- 1 /2 of a cucumber, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch (2c m cubes) – optional
Important: Tomatoes and cucumber should be added only shortly before serving!
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
Place the cubes in a large bowl and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil. Turn eggplant cubes to coat them well. Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake them for 20 minutes, turning them mid-time. After 20 minutes baking, they should look a bit dry and shriveled. These are the times I use with my oven. Some ovens work faster! The eggplants’ texture is critical in this dish. The cubes should look dry on the outside but still be moist inside, spongy. It is best to test the doneness of the eggplant cubes by inserting a toothpick. If it offers no resistance it should be ok. The eggplant cubes should not be mushy and fall apart when you lift them as they will absorb the marinade later and soften further. Once you have mastered this part by trial and error you are practically home free.
In the meantime, saute the onions slices until soft (2-3 minutes). Add the peppers and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes further. Peppers and garlic should be limp, but still “al dente”. Let it cool.
Make a marinade out of the extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) or Italian parsley and pepper. Be careful when adding salt, as the feta cheese may be very salty. Adjust the taste if necessary.
Put eggplant, onion, pepper slices, garlic, and olives in a bowl. Add feta cheese and the marinade, turning the salad ever so gently. You don’t warn to end up with an unsightly mush. Try not to break the feta cheese too much.
If you decide to add tomatoes and cucumber, add them only just before serving, or they will get soggy. Adjust the taste again.