Salade aubergine-tomate-poivron

This summery salad of roasted eggplant with tomatoes and sweet red pepper is a versatile dish that may be served as a starter, as a side dish, as part of a mezze spread or as the star of a vegetarian meal. It is similar to its French cousin, ratatouille, but in fact hails from further east. Crushed coriander seeds lend an exotic flavor, while cayenne adds bite. Enjoy it chilled with a bottle of crisp rosé as we head into the hottest time of the year.

Salade aubergine-tomate-poivron / Roasted eggplant salad

I discovered this dish in April while visiting my friend Penny in England. A fabulous cook, she shares with me a background in the former Soviet Union and picked up many delicious recipes there. This salad, which is served across Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and other former Soviet republics, is known in Russian as baklazhannaya ikra and in Ukrainian as baklazanu ikra, both of which translate as ‘eggplant caviar’. But it bears little resemblance to the eggplant caviar served in France and the Middle East.

This is not only because it includes other veggies in addition to the eggplant, but also because the veggies are not puréed or mashed together but remain recognizable, with their lovely colors making an attractive dish. I served it twice recently, first alongside smoked fish and dark rye bread, in honor of a Polish dinner guest, and then beside roast chicken, which was the most reasonable thing I could think of to serve to a friend who came over to watch the French election results — roast chicken being the ultimate French comfort food.

For a vegetarian or vegan summer meal, the roasted eggplant salad could be served with herbal tomato salad, Moroccan carrot salad, chickpea salad with cumin and dill, tangy fava spread, beet salad with walnuts, summer salad with fresh figs, and the list goes on. If you’d like to serve something warm alongside, I’d recommend bulghur with red onion and mint, spicy lentils with onions, provençal tomatoes or — why not? — potato pancakes.

As for drinks, this salad goes well with rosé or red wine — and also, given its origins, with chilled vodka. We may be needing a lot of that over here with the far-right National Rally poised to dominate in the French parliament after the second round of legislative elections this Sunday. Less than a month ago, it was inconceivable to me that my adopted country could find itself governed by the heirs of the Vichy leaders who oversaw the massive deportation of Jews from France during World War II. But then President Macron pounced with his insane decision to dissolve the National Assembly.

To calm my nerves, I plan to spend a lot of time over the coming weeks being creative in the kitchen — as making beautiful food is not only my art form, but also my zen.

Happy cooking.

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2 Responses to Salade aubergine-tomate-poivron

  1. Kristin Louise Duncombe says:

    oh la la le tres grand yum yum yum!

  2. Mimi Rippee says:

    It is like a ratatouille salade! Wonderful.

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