It’s eggplant season for our CSA. I don’t have a strong affinity for eggplant. While I don’t dislike it, and in fact sometimes I might even eat it if it’s offered as, say, part of an all-you-can-eat buffet, I wouldn’t normally buy it and don’t really know what to do with it when it appears in our CSA box. Last week two large eggplants were delivered in our box. Thankfully, the farmer sent along a simple recipe for eggplant and tomato salad so I thought I’d give it a try. I modified it a bit to suit our tastes and what we had on hand. The result didn’t look like any salad I’ve ever had. In fact, I think labeling even the original recipe a salad is a bit of a stretch, but what’s in a name, right?
Eggplant and Tomato Salad
Servings: Many — I would guess about 8
- 2 large eggplants, cubed
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (original recipe calls for 1 cup tomato puree)
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar (or use less sugar, depending on your tastes)
In a large bowl, cover the eggplant cubes with water and stir in the salt. My eggplant cubes bobbed on the surface of the water, so I put a lid from a sauce pot on top of them to force them down so they’d be fully submerged in the water. After an hour of soaking, drain the eggplant and gently squeeze the cubes to remove any excess water.
Next comes sautéing the eggplant, which I had to do in two batches because of the size of my pan. In a pan, heat about half of the 1/3 cup of olive oil called for in the recipe over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and sauté for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Remove the eggplant to a bowl, set aside, add the rest of the olive oil to the pan, and sauté the second batch in the same manner. Add the second batch to the bowl with the first batch of eggplant.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan. Stir in the red wine vinegar and sugar (I recommend tasting the mixture after adding the first teaspoon of sugar because you may find that two teaspoons is too sweet). Simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the eggplant and simmer for five more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature for about two hours. Stir and serve at room temperature.
I took one look at this “salad” and thought it would make a great meal in itself if I tossed it over some fusilli pasta, so I did. I cooked the pasta in boiling salted water as usual, drained it, and stirred in some of the eggplant and tomato salad. Then I added fresh chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper (a little red pepper would add some nice heat if you so desire). I made so much of this dish that we had lots of leftovers. Turns out that it was equally good hot, room temperature, and straight out of the refrigerator.
I think the eggplant and tomato salad would also make a yummy topping for bruschetta. Toast some slices of French bread or Italian baguette, rub a little raw garlic on the toast then drizzle some olive oil on it. Top the toast with the eggplant and tomato salad mixed with some freshly chopped basil. Yum. I think that’s some eggplant I could get excited about. Maybe I’ll try the bruschetta this week because something tells me we’ll have more eggplant in our CSA box.