Grilled Eggplant Salad with Jerusalem Flavors
Provided by: Steven Raichlen
You’ll recognize it as a deconstructed, reconstructed version of the grilled eggplant dips and salads prevalent throughout the Jerusalem regionfire-charred eggplant counterpointed by smoky tomato sauce, nutty tahini (sesame seed paste), creamy yogurt, and crunchy walnuts. Think of it as the Middle East on a salad plate.
- 4 small eggplants (3 to 4 ounces each)
- 2 luscious, red ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup plain thick Greek or Middle Eastern-style yogurt
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Pita bread, for serving
- Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high.
- When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the eggplants and tomatoes on the hot grate and grill them until the skins are blackened; 3 to 4 minutes per side, 9 to 12 minutes in all for the eggplants and about 2 minutes per side, 6 to 8 minutes in all for the tomatoes. The eggplants should be cooked all the way through (they will be easy to pierce with a skewer). The tomatoes should be charred on the outside but remain raw inside. Transfer the grilled eggplants and tomatoes to an aluminum foil pan to cool to room temperature.
- Using a paring knife, scrape any really burned skin off the tomatoes; a few black spots will add flavor. Puree the tomatoes in a food processor. Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste and more lemon juice as necessary; the sauce should be highly seasoned. Set the tomato sauce aside.
- Place the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt mixing bowl and mash to a paste with the a wooden spoon. Add the tahini and whisk in 1/4 cup of water (the sauce will thin), followed by 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (the sauce will thicken). Taste for the seasoning, adding lemon juice and/or salt as necessary. Set the sauce aside.
- Using a paring knife, scrape any really burned skin off the eggplants and cut the flesh into dice. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper to taste.
- To assemble the salad, spoon pools of tomato sauce on 4 plates or a platter. Mound the eggplant in the center. Spoon circles (puddles) of tahini sauce on the tomato sauce around the eggplant. Spoon the yogurt over the eggplant and top it with the walnuts and parsley. Serve at once with breadit’s the Middle East on a plate.