Salade aubergine-tomate-poivron

Roasted eggplant salad

Crushed coriander seeds lend a slightly exotic accent to this salad of roasted eggplant, tomato, sweet red pepper, garlic, olive oil, parsley and cayenne. You can make it as hot or as mild as you like, and may also choose to omit the sweet pepper if you prefer.

This salad is best in summer when the veggies are in season and tomatoes are plump and juicy. In other seasons, tinned tomatoes may be substituted for fresh ones. As for the coriander seeds, for maximum flavor grind them yourself, for example in a coffee grinder.

The salad may be served as a starter, as a side dish, as part of a mezze spread or as the star of a vegetarian meal. The quantities below will serve 3-4 people.

1 large or 2 medium eggplant
1 sweet red pepper
1 onion, red or blond
2 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
2 tbps. olive oil

1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 dried cayenne pepper, crushed
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red wine vinegar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 C (360 F, gas mark 6).

Rinse and dry the eggplant. Pierce the skin in a couple of places with a fork — this will allow steam to escape during roasting, a necessary precaution as otherwise the eggplant may explode in the oven. Place in a roasting pan.

Roast the eggplant for 60 minutes, or until the skin is browning. Test for doneness by pressing down on the eggplant — if it’s still firm to the touch, it needs to roast for a bit longer. Remove the eggplant from the oven when done and allow to cool.

While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the rest of the salad.

Rinse the sweet pepper, remove the core and seeds, slice in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into fine strips.

Peel and chop the onion and garlic.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute. Drain, allow to cool and slip them out of their skins. Chop.

When the eggplant has cooled enough for easy handling, slice in half and scoop out the flesh. Transfer the flesh to a plate (to help retain the juices) and chop roughly.

Strip enough leaves from the parsley stems to make about half a cup. Chop.

Heat the olive oil to sizzling in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the sliced pepper. Turn the heat down to medium high. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and sauté 5 minutes more.

When the onions have wilted, add the tomatoes. Stir. Add the ground coriander seeds, crushed cayenne, salt and sugar. (For a mild version, omit the cayenne.) Grind on some black pepper. Stir. Cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the chopped eggplant with its juices and the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If you’d like a bit more bite, add the red vinegar. Cook for 2 minutes more.

Allow the salad to cool completely before serving. It may be served at room temperature or chilled out of the fridge. Add a little more parsley for decoration. Serves 3-4.

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