Inspired by the chunky eggplant salad at a local Turkish restaurant, Real Doner, I decided to create my own. I make baba ghanoush, a creamy eggplant dish, all the time but have never made it any other way.
The hurdle was how to cook the eggplant. Eggplant goes from hard to creamy fairly quickly. I decided to roast it and this turned out to be perfect. Slice in to 1/2″ thick pieces (keep the skin on, it adds flavor and color) and put on low baking pans or cookie sheets with a bit of olive oil. Do not overlap. Turn the pieces once so there is some oil on both sides. Don’t use much, just enough to give it a little browning and so it won’t stick.
When the eggplant is fork tender but not falling apart, take it out of the oven. When cool enough to handle, slice and dice into small bite-sized pieces.
Dice and add the rest of your vegetable ingredients. I use cucumber and tomato.
Now make the sauce. I couldn’t hope to duplicate the Turkish version so I made a simple chimichurri-style sauce. Cilantro, fresh lemon or lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, a bit of hot pepper, and cumin seeds (plus fresh garlic if you wish). You can substitute cumin powder but the seeds give it a nicer flavor. Use powder if the salad will be eaten within an hour of making, because the seeds won’t have time to soften.
Mix the sauce in the blender, pour over the vegetables, and mix. That’s it, you’re done. Serve chilled, at room temperature, or slightly warm from the eggplant. It’s good all ways.