This simple salad of sliced eggplant with tomatoes and basil is the height of summer flavors. Fresh, in-season eggplant cooks up into wonderfully tender bites, especially if you use my method of brining them first - it helps them hold their shape whether you decide to fry or bake them, reduces any bitterness they may harbor, and helps bring out their subtle earthy flavor.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Brining Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 1 eggplant
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt
- Oil for frying or about 1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil or spray oil
- 3 medium tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 6 basil leaves
- Cut the eggplant into slices - you can do crosswise or lengthwise slices, they work equally well.
- In a large bowl, dissolve the salt in about 1/2 cup warm water. Once the salt is dissolved, add 4 to 6 cups of cool water and swish it all around to combine (as long as the salt is fully dissolved before you add the cool water, it will evenly distribute itself quickly). Put the eggplant slices in the salt water. Set a plate or pot lid that is slightly smaller than the top of the bowl on the eggplant pieces to keep them submerged. Let sit about 30 minutes. Drain the eggplant and pat the pieces dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
- For baked eggplant: Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lay the eggplant on a baking sheet (or sheets, depending on how much eggplant you decided to cook) and lightly brush or spray with oil. Turn all the pieces over and brush or spray the other side. Bake until the downside has browned nicely, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn all the pieces over and bake until that side is browned, too, about 10 more minutes.
- For fried eggplant: Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large pot or wide and deep frying pan to 375°F. Fry the eggplant in batches (don't crowd the pan) until it is brown on the bottom side, gently turn each piece over and cook the all until brown on the second side, about 4 minutes per batch. Drain the fried eggplant on a cooling rack or on layers of paper towels and repeat with remaining batches.
- Divide the eggplant slices between 4 to 6 plates. Core the tomatoes, cut them in half along the equator (crosswise) and squeeze out and discard the juice and seeds in the middle. Chop the tomatoes and divide them among the plates, putting them on top of the eggplant slices.
- Drizzle each plate with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cut basil leaves into ribbons (see How to Cut a Chiffonade here, and sprinkle them on top of each salad.