Caramelized roasted eggplant teams up with peppers, cucumbers, olives, parsley, mint, toasted almonds and a zesty shallot-chip vinaigrette for a healthy Mediterranean twist!
This salad is a great nourishing dish that also happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and delicious!
I simply love cooking all kinds of eggplants, known as “aubergines” in the western world. They are plentiful year-round, are low calorie and have a healthy nutritional profile. They have a great caramelized flavor on their own, and soak up flavors they are infused with.
In this recipe, I teach you to salt the eggplant cubes first, then pat dry before roasting. This you-shouldn’t-miss-step removes some bitterness from the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit not a vegetable) and halts it from soaking up too much oil. Leave half of its skin on, it has nutritional value, and helps to hold the cubes together.
A healthy dish with bold flavors—you will love the Shallot-Chip Vinaigrette tossed in the salad. Shallots are crisped as the oil benefits from a flavor-boost.
We get away with cooking the eggplant in only two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. It will be crispy, will not stick to the pan, and be perfectly roasted.
Lots of freshly chopped parsley and mint adds a good dose of fiber, flavonoids and antioxidants, and it’s also praised as an aid with digestion. I use lots of it—think tabouleh. Peppers, olives and cucumbers round out the vegetable add-ins, a sort of Mediterranean influence.
Toasted almonds add a great nutty crunch, so toss them in before serving.
Roasted Mediterranean Eggplant Salad with a Shallot-Chip Vinaigrette
2 large eggplants, about 1 1/4 pound each
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cleaned, 1/2” dice
1/2 cup fresh cucumbers, cleaned, 1/2″ dice
1/4 cup pitted mediterranean olives
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, cleaned, dried and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, cleaned, dried and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted until golden
Make the Shallot-Chip Vinaigrette, set aside (directions below).
Peel the eggplant in long strips, taking off about half of the skin. Cut into even 1-inch cubes. Place them in a large colander, toss with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Top with a paper towel and a weight (a filled tea kettle works great). Put into a clean sink to drain for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place half of the eggplant in a clean tea towel (or paper towels) and gently squeeze out excess moisture.
Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.
Add the eggplant to a large rimmed baking pan, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and rub in to coat.
Roast for 20 minutes, then toss with a spatula, and continue baking until nice and golden, about 10 minutes more.
Cool slightly, then toss with 4 tablespoons with the dressing.
Add the vegetables, olives and herbs, toss well. The salad’s flavor will improve when the dressing sinks in. Taste, add more dressing if desired.
To serve, top with the toasted almonds and shallot chips.
Garnish with mint and parsley sprigs.
Grains: any steamed type you love: freekeh, farro, brown rice or short cut pasta.
For a little heat, add some of your favorite fresh minced chiles.
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
3/4 cup shallots, 1/2 inch chop
1 cup neutral oil* such as safflower oil (can use half extra virgin olive oil)
1/3 cup sherry vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure cane sugar
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Place the peeled and chopped shallots in a small sauce pan with the oil. Cook over low-medium heat until the shallots have lightly browned, and have crisped, about 3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, and reserve. Cool the oil, make the dressing.
Place all dressing ingredients (except the oil) in a medium sized bowl, whisk to combine. Let stand 15 minutes to macerate. Slowly pour the oil in a stream to emulsify, whisking. Taste for seasonings, add cracked pepper if you wish.
Drizzle over the Roasted Eggplant Salad. Top with the crispy shallots and serve. Place the extra dressing in a clean, glass container and store in the refrigerator for your future creations.
*With concerns about GMOs and processing of oils, use a vegetable oil which has not been chemically treated, this is called “expeller pressed.”
This recipe may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of its author, Karen Sheer.
Author: Karen Sheer
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s own