I've made a grilled eggplant salad in the past when I just threw in my favorite vegies for the grill. It was partly inspired by typical Mediterranean eggplant mezes, but a couple months ago, I had an eggplant salad at Kebob Mediterranean Grill in Delray Beach, FL that just blew me away. The owner & chef is from Sanliurfa, an ancient city in the southern Anatolian region of Turkey. Sanliurfa was conquered repeatedly by many civilizations throughout history--perhaps the reason for its rich cuisine.
I tweaked the old recipe by removing the eggplant skin and adding more fine extra virgin olive oil to make it richer, loads of pul biber to kick it up a few notches, and some mint flakes to perk it up a bit. It did not turn out exactly like what I had at the restaurant since I used an American eggplant instead of the Japanese variety, but it was very close!
Turkish Eggplant Salad (Patlican Salatasi)
(Yields 6 Appetizer Portions)
- 1 large American eggplant or 5 Japanese eggplants
- 1 large ripe tomato, cut shallow X on bottom
- 1 onion, peeled & quartered
- 2 banana chili peppers
- 5 big cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- fine extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- Course sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Pul biber to taste
- 1 tsp mint flakes
- 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Black olives to garnish
Preheat oven's broiler to 450F. Make ten ½-inch slits into eggplant and insert a garlic wedge into each slit. Put on roasting sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, remembering to turn every 10 minutes or so. Eggplant is cooked when the skins have collapsed and the flesh has softened. After about 20 minutes into cooking the eggplant, place the onion, tomato and chili peppers on the same cooking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and put back into the oven. Remember to keep an eye on it so the vegies don't burn.
While the vegies are roasting, make the dressing by whisking together all the spices with the lemon juice and olive oil in a salad bowl.
When all the vegies are done roasting, remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove eggplant stem and skin and cut the silky flesh into bite-size pieces. I like to pick the garlic cloves out of the eggplant and mince them up before tossing them into the bowl so that there is yummy garlic in every bite. Stem and peel the tomato and chili peppers as well and dice. Chop up onion and throw everything into the salad bowl. Toss everything together and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or chilled with toasted wedges of pita bread.