Monday, July 18, 2016

Israeli Charred Eggplant Salad

1 large eggplant
1 lemon or lime, halved
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons tahini mixed with 1 small crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons silan date honey – if silan isn’t available, substitute 1 tablespoon light bee’s honey diluted with 2 teaspoons warm water to make it runny
1 medium tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese – substitute a few tablespoons of thick yogurt if you prefer
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh za’atar, oregano or basil
You can use an oven or a metal grill to cook the eggplant. In the oven, preheat to 450 degrees and let the eggplant char for 35-45 minutes (you can also use the broiler for the last 10 minutes). Flip the eggplant halfway through. 
On the grill, place the eggplant directly on the grill and turn consistently. You want the outer skin of the eggplant to be charred and the inside to be soft. 
Let the eggplant cool for a few minutes. When the vegetable is just cool enough to handle by its cap end, peel the charred skin away with a paring knife. It comes off fairly easily, and if a little of the charred peel stays on, it only adds Mediterranean flavor.
Now to season it. The best way to make the eggplant accept the flavorings is to cut it in half horizontally and press a fork through its flesh.
Next, squeeze half a lemon or lime over each half eggplant. Dribble tahini that’s been mixed with a small, crushed garlic clove over each half.
Over that, drizzle silan or diluted honey from the tip of a tablespoon.
Then scoop up the tomato you’ve previously chopped and distribute the chunks all over the eggplant bed. Crumble about a tablespoon of feta over the tomato. Garnish with some fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, mint, dill). 
A good dollop of olive oil finishes the dish off. You can also finish the dish with a dollop of dill yogurt sauce or plain greek yogurt. 
Eat hot, with fresh pita or baguette slices.
One medium to large eggplant makes an appetizer for 4 people, or lunch for one hungry person.

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