Sunday, October 6, 2013

Savory: Greek Eggplant "Salad"

Eggplant can be as mysterious to cooks as the Mona Lisa's smile.  Do you salt it or wet it?  How can you make it less bitter?  How can you cook it without soaking every ounce of oil up like a sponge?  I have had many really smart, independent, determined friends come to me with the same dilemma time and time again, looking at me as if I have the primer for the Da Vinci Code.

The truth is, it really is not that difficult to work with eggplant, as long as you plan ahead of time - last minute eggplant anything recipes are hard to find.  If you are new to it, think of it like a bad first date; you have to coax it out of its bitterness and try to ignore it's self-absored nature.  Once you get past that, it is yielding, easy to work with, and delicious.  First impressions can be deceptive.

This recipe came to me from The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook, part of the Essential series from Bay Books which I enjoy.  The books survey several countries in each volume, and then serve up luscious pictures, details about exotic ingredients, and terrific recipes.  In this book, you can travel through Spain, France, Northern Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, and of course Greece, where you will find this easy to make albeit time consuming recipe.  Billed as a salad, it can be served on its own with rice or orzo as a main course.  Eggplant, tomato, and onions are basically sauteed on low heat for about an hour, yielding a soft, velvety meal for six.  Did I mention that it is low fat, vegetarian, and gluten free?

Enjoy every bite.

Greek Eggplant Salad
Adapted from The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook


  • 2 large eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • Canned chopped tomatoes (800 grams or 1 lb 12 oz)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 5 1/2 oz greek yogurt
  • 1 oz toasted pine nuts


  1. Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes.  Place in colander, generously salt (kosher salt if you have it), and let it drip into a bowl for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly under cold water and pat dry using a dish towel.  
  2. Mix the remaining 2 tbsp of oil with garlic and lemon juice.  Add to yogurt along with the mint and stir.  Set aside.
  3. Using a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil on medium-high.  Fry the eggplant in batches until golden and cool on paper towels.  Add 2 more tbsp of oil to the pan and fry the onion for 1 - 2 minutes, then add the cinnamon and 1/2 of the garlic.  Mix and fry for 1 more minute and then add the tomatoes, and stir well.  Add the eggplant, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for about an hour, until the liquid is cooked through/the mixture is dry.  Add half of the chopped herbs and remove from heat to cool down. 
  4. Add pine nuts and mix through.  Top with remaining fresh herbs and serve with yogurt sauce and orzo.