Two perfect eggplants arrived in our CSA this week, and I immediately wanted to make this salad. I first made it two summers ago after spotting it in Bon Appétit, and wrote about it on Food52 shortly thereafter.
In sum: it’s a composed salad, three layers of goodness:
- Layer 1: Cucumber-yogurt sauce, seasoned with cumin, garlic, and fresh lemon. It’s kind of like a cross between an Indian raita and a Greek tzatziki.
- Layer 2: Roasted eggplant, irresistible on its own, caramelized at the edges, creamy in the center.
- Layer 3: Tomato salad, dressed in a simple mix of equal parts olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, plus flaky sea salt to taste. A handful of greens, such as arugula or sprouts, gets folded into the dressed tomatoes just before serving.
The original recipe calls for a layer of crispy kale chips, which are very delicious and which complement the other vegetables well, but I never make them anymore as two roasted components for a summer salad feels too much like hard work.
I made this salad for dinner tonight (July 31st, 2019) and served it with olive oil toasted bread and a few wedges of cheese my mother sent me home with last week. And though I feel I’m beginning to sound like a broken record — “Serve this with bread and a hunk of cheese and call dinner done!” — that’s what happened tonight and what happens more and more these days.
Current hierarchy of needs: Vegetables. Bread. Wine. Cheese.
Yes or no?
Adapted from this recipe from London’s Gunpowder restaurant.
For video guidance, see this Instagram Story.
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1½ –2 pounds total), quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
- kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and crushed, or ground cumin
- 1 cucumber (about 8 oz)
- 1 cup whole milk (or 2%) plain Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- a handful of arugula or other greens
- flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 450°F convection roast. Toss eggplants with 1/4 cup of the oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt (at least 1 teaspoon kosher salt). Roast, until eggplant pieces are deeply golden on the side touching the sheet pan, 15 to 20 minutes or longer — start checking at 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip over each piece gently using a fork or spatula (this is just to ensure the pieces are golden and to ensure they don’t stick). Set aside.
- Grate the cucumber coarsely on a box grater. In a medium bowl, stir the cucumber into the yogurt, along with the garlic, and the juice of half the lemon (about 1.5 tablespoons). Add the toasted, ground cumin seed. Season with salt, starting with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, adding an additional 1/4 teaspoon if necessary. Taste. Add more salt and lemon to taste — this should taste nicely seasoned.
- Toss tomatoes with a good pinch of flaky sea salt and the tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add arugula and toss gently. Spoon yogurt mixture onto a large platter and layer eggplant on top. Top with tomato-arugula mixture. Taste. Sprinkle with more salt, olive oil, or lemon if necessary.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Roast
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: eggplant, roasted, tomatoes, cucumber, yogurt, tzatziki, summer, salad