Recently, I asked one of my friends, “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I was very surprised to hear, “Eggplant.” Despite the fact that I eat baba ghannooj daily (I’m looking at you Al-Amir!), I don’t think of eggplants very often. They are flavor chameleons–moving their way through mimicking bacon to being true to themselves in mousakka. Inspired by my friend’s answer, I decided it was time to make up an eggplant salad.
Sometimes, eggplant is creamy and perfect; other times, it can be a bit bitter. Tossing the eggplant in a generous amount of salt and letting it sit for 30-60 minutes can help remove bitterness. It draws out the water, and gives the eggplant a fresh start. Of course, no one wants to eat that much salt, so be sure to rinse it off with cold water before using.
For this recipe, I roasted eggplant in the oven. A wonderful variation would be grilling the eggplant out on a grill, instead. Plus, in those summer months, who wants to turn on the oven? For another variation, add toasted pine nuts, instead of pistachios, or top with crumbled vegan mozzarella cheese. This recipe works well as a packable lunch, light dinner, or side.
Mediterranean Chickpea Eggplant Salad
1 large eggplant, cubed
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
½ cup lemon juice, divided
3 Tbsp + ¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½-1 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp capers
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 cups Israeli cous cous, prepared following the directions on package, rinsed in cold water and drained
¾ cup pistachios, roasted and shelled
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1. Place eggplant in a colander and toss with a generous amount of salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse off the salt with cold water.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. Set oven to BROIL on HiGH. In a mixing bowl, add garlic, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 Tbsp olive oil, salt and black pepper. Dump in eggplant and coat. Spread coated eggplant across the cookie sheet in a single layer. Broil for 10-15 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of roasted. Watch carefully to make sure it does not burn. Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
3. Add everything remaining in the recipe in a large mixing bowl. Combine. Add eggplant last and toss gingerly. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve over a bed of arugula and top with pistachios.