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Eggplant, bell peppers, onions and parsley are staple ingredients in Mediterranean countries. I grew up in an Italian kitchen where these simple veggies and herbs were transformed into delicious meals on a daily basis.
This eggplant salad boasts luscious flavors, especially when fused with garlic and olive oil. The best part of this salad is that you can keep it as an exquisite leftover in refrigerator (covered) for up to four days. Buon appetito!<
Active prep time: 50 minutes
Inactive prep iime: 30 minutes (for eggplant to sit & drain)
Serves: 6 to 8
2 large eggplants (dark-skinned & firm – without marks or dents)
3 tablespoons salt (to coat eggplant & drain bitter juices)
vegetable oil (for oiling baking sheets)
2 red bell peppers
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 small spring onions or scallions, peeled & finely chopped
1 cup packed fresh, flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
Ground black pepper, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Cut and discard tips from both ends of the eggplant; cut eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds.
2. Cut each round into 1/2-inch thick slices and then into 1/2-inch cubes; set aside in a large colander set over a bowl.
3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons salt over eggplant cubes.
4. Wearing disposable chefs’ plastic gloves (to prevent brown staining of hands), toss the eggplant; set it aside in a colander set over a bowl to drain for 30 minutes.
5. In the meantime, coat two 18-inch X 12-inch baking sheets with vegetable oil.
6. After eggplant has drained for 30 minutes, wearing gloves, grab a batch of eggplant and squeeze it tightly over a sink to drain bitter juices.
7.Set squeezed eggplant cubes on baking sheet; continue squeezing remaining eggplant & scatter it evenly over the baking sheets.
Boiling/Grilling the Eggplant:
1. Set oven to “BROIL” (this is the upper element in oven that turns red).
2. Place one baking sheet with eggplant on a rack set 6 inches away from upper boiling element.
3. Broil (this is the same as “grill”) eggplant cubes until they look golden brown (about 7 to 8 minutes).
4. When eggplant cubes look golden brown, toss them and broil/grill them for an additional 5 to 6 minutes or until they look golden brown. DO NOT LET THEM BLACKEN OR CHAR.
5.Set the baking sheet with broiled/grilled eggplant aside on a rack or trivet on counter; repeat above procedure with the second baking sheet.
6. Meanwhile, cut the red bell peppers in half lengthwise, remove & discard tip and seeds. Set aside.
7. With a spatula, gently transfer the eggplant to a large glass or porcelain bowl; set aside.
8. Place bell peppers, rounded side facing up, on one of the same baking sheets previously used for eggplant.
9. Transfer the baking sheet with peppers on an oven rack set 6 inches away from top broiling element.
10. Broil the peppers for 8 to 9 minutes or until skin has blackened. Set sheet with peppers aside on a counter or trivet to cool.
11. After peppers have cooled to “lukewarm”, remove & discard skins. Chop peppers into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
Assembling the Salad:
1. Combine the broiled eggplant, bell peppers, garlic, onions, parsley, pepper and olive oil (SINCE THE EGGPLANT IS ALREADY SALTED, DO NOT ADD ADDITIONAL SALT). Toss and taste.
2. If needed, adjust seasonings and olive oil. Cover the salad with plastic wrap & set it on a counter at room temperature until ready to serve.
3. When served with Italian, French bread or pita bread, this dish stands on its own. You can also serve it as part of a Vegan, meat or fish course and/or buffet table. Enjoy!
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real