This is a marvelous late summer salad using produce at the peak of their season. With juicy sweet tomatoes, and melt-in-your-mouth tender eggplant marinated in a tomato vinaigrette, it may sound a little simplistic, but when you have just-picked produce this good, it doesn’t need to be complicated to be good.
Because tomatoes contain so much water I like to salt the tomatoes and let the extra water drain out first. This not only seasons the tomatoes to the core, the water they release can be emulsified with olive oil to make a marvelous dressing that infuses the smoky eggplant with the sweet flavor of the tomatoes.
Grilled peeled eggplant may not look like much, in fact it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it looks unappetizing, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it more than compensates for with its luscious creamy texture and nuanced smoky flavor that pairs marvelously with the fruity tomato. Japanese or Chinese eggplants work great for this dish because their slim profile makes cook through relatively quickly and they tend to have fewer seeds than the thicker Italian variety.
Eggplant and Tomato Salad
- 13.3 ounces (375 grams) Japanese eggplant (3 japanese eggplants or 1 chinese eggplant)
- 13.3 ounces (375 grams) tomatoes (about 6 small tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional: add if your tomatoes aren't very sweet)
- 2 teaspoons shallots, finely minced (about 1/2 small shallot)
- Poke some holes in the eggplant using a fork and place them on a hot grill or under a broiler. Grill until charred on one side and then flip over and cook until the eggplant is charred on the other side and tender when poked with a skewer. Put the eggplant on a plate and let it cool.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Dunk the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 10 seconds and then chill them in the bowl of ice water. This should make the tomatoes very easy to peel. If the skin does not come off easily, put them back in the boiling water for another couple of seconds.
- After you've peeled the tomatoes, core and cut them into wedges and toss in a bowl with the salt. Put the tomatoes in a strainer and catch the tomato water below with a bowl. Let this sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Peel the eggplant and cut them into pieces about the same size as the tomatoes and add them to a bowl with the parsley.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the tomato water, olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey and shallots.
- Add the tomatoes in with the eggplant and toss with the dressing. You can serve this immediately or let it marinate for a few hours to make it even better.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.