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Eggplant Salad

August 7, 2009

eggplantsalad250x333Eggplant came into my life by way of marriage.

My mom does not particularly like eggplant. My dad, in the 34 years I’ve known him, has not to my knowledge even said the word “eggplant.” Since it never showed up on our dinner table, it just wasn’t part of his food vocabulary. I went through most of my life with the same sort of indifference towards eggplant. It wasn’t like all my friend’s mothers in our small, eastern Washington town were serving it up every night. I had no reason to be curious.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Plus, whenever you encounter something (like eggplant) who’s beauty truly is only skin deep, you’ve got to wonder if it’s something worth pursuing. On top of that, eggplants are one of those tricky I-look-like-a-vegetable-but-I’m-really-a-fruit characters, and not only is it really a fruit, it’s a berry. Then there’s that whole thing about eggplants being bitter. Frankly, this was all too much to deal with so even after I had a kitchen of my own I stuck with vegetables that really were vegetables and didn’t give eggplant much thought.

Enter Man Of My Dreams.

If you think you can marry of man of Eastern European descent and not have eggplant come into you home, you are wrong. When my husband and I first met, he had a small but endearing repertoire of homemade dishes that he wooed me with. The first was an omelette served with a small mixed green salad. The second was beef stew and the third, chicken schnitzel (we did not have a typical courtship). The fourth was a spread of chopped eggplant, served with cucumbers and slices of baguette. The dish is similar to Eggplant Caviar, a puree of roasted eggplant, onion, olive oil and usually some herbs and spices. The Romanian version my husband serves is simpler – it contains just eggplant and as much olive oil and salt as you need for flavor. As for the name, it’s simpler too, as it appears Romanians don’t have the need to dress up dishes with silly names like “Eggplant Caviar.”

“It’s called eggplant,” my husband said when I asked him the name of the dish recently. Then he paused, “Actually, it’s called chopped eggplant.”

To make Chopped Eggplant, put several whole eggplant in the oven and roast until they split – you may even hear them pop open. Scoop out the innards, mash, add salt and olive oil to taste. It’s one of those deceivingly simple recipes that is

Eggplant Chopper

Eggplant Chopper

much harder to master than you’d think. What makes all the difference, my husband claims, is the tool you use to mash the eaggplant. It must be done by hand and a fork won’t produce the flavor you want. When his mother was on vacation in Romania a few years ago, my husband asked her to bring back the tool he needed, the same one his grandmother and mother use. The tool looks like this and is called, of course, an Eggplant Chopper.

These days I buy eggplant fairly regularly, but I let them sit on the counter for

Eggplant Salad

Eggplant Salad

several days before I touch them, hoping the husband will take the hint and make Chopped Eggplant. If he doesn’t, then I whip up something like Roasted Eggplant Salad with Tomatoes and Spinach. I love the garlic and lemon dressing on this salad, and the fact that it can be served warm or cold. It takes a little time to roast the eggplant, but other than that is quite simple.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. DorisI permalink
    October 18, 2009 8:38 pm

    LOVE THIS!! I have a matching chopper:).

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