Roasted Eggplant Salad with Chili Pepper Water and Mint

June 23, 2011


Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by a lunch I prepared using ingredients from the garden. One friend brought beautiful heirloom Listada di Gandia eggplants and Hawaiian chili peppers from her garden, while the mint came from another friend’s raised bed. I had wanted to come up with a simple eggplant dish, one that did not involve frying. Chili pepper water is a local favorite – people here put it on just about everything. I roasted up the eggplants, made my version of chili pepper water and topped it all with fresh mint. Bright, with sweet and sour notes, and just a hint of heat from the chili peppers, it has become my summer staple for using eggplant. Just in time for weeks on end of gorgeous globes in my CSA box. It is delicious as a salad, but would also be lovely as a topping for crostini.gingerroot

Serves: a crowd

Ingredients

Eggplant and Mint

  • 4 good sized globe eggplants
  • Pinches of coarse sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, packed

For Chili Pepper Water

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced (trim off end)
  • 1 Thai bird chili, or other small hot red chili such as Hawaiian chili pepper, sliced (trim off end)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Combine chili pepper water ingredients in a glass jar or container with a tight fitting lid. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Taste for sugar and salt, depending on the heat of the peppers and your preferences. It should be a balance of sweet and sour, with just a hint of salt and heat. Adjust as necessary. Let mixture sit for at least an hour before using, can be made a day in advance; store in the refrigerator.
  2. Trim off ends of eggplants. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise and score deeply with a sharp knife in a crosshatch pattern, without cutting through the skin (see photo). Using your thumbs, gently press up from the skin side to open up the flesh; sprinkle sea salt on each half, making sure that some salt gets down into the cuts. Repeat until you have cut and salted all the eggplant halves. Set aside for 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Gently squeeze the liquid from each salted eggplant half and quickly rinse. Blot dry with a paper towel. Drizzle cut sides with olive oil, and place cut side down on the parchment paper. Roast eggplants for 25 minutes and check for doneness. Roast for a few minutes more if necessary; eggplants are finished when skin side is wrinkled and a bit deflated but not mushy. Remove pan from oven and allow eggplants to cool.
  5. Carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of each eggplant to loosen the flesh. Press the skin up to cut the flesh away in small uniform pieces (along the scored lines). Alternatively, after loosening the flesh you could scoop eggplant out with a spoon. Essentially, you want to cut away as much of the eggplant as possible, without turning it to complete mush. Discard skins. Arrange on a serving plate or platter. If you are taking this to a picnic, pack in a Tupperware or container with a lid and plate at your destination.
  6. Dress roasted eggplant with chili pepper water to taste. Rough tear about half of your mint leaves and top salad with torn and whole leaves. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.

More Great Recipes:
Chili|Salad|Vegetable|Eggplant|Mint|Pepper|Make Ahead|Summer|Gluten-Free

Reviews (8) Questions (0)

8 Reviews

arielleclementine June 27, 2012
i love this! i used to think i didn't like eggplant, but then i got to try some that aargersi had cooked, and realized that eggplant can be delicious- i'm excited to try this!
 
Author Comment
gingerroot July 4, 2012
Thanks so much, arielleclementine! Let me know what you think if you give it a try.
 
fiveandspice July 25, 2011
Whoa, chile pepper water sounds so great! Love this idea, and I'm totally there with you on looking for ways to cook eggplant that aren't frying.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot July 27, 2011
Thanks, fiveandspice! My palate tends towards spicy/sour so the combination of chili, vinegar, salt and sugar is my kind of dressing for just about everything.
 
hardlikearmour June 23, 2011
I love eggplant in pretty much every incarnation, but yours sounds particularly delicious. I love the combo of the mint and the chili pepper water.
 
Author Comment
gingerroot June 24, 2011
Thanks so much, hardlikearmour! The mint really pops when contrasted with the sweet-sour water and the roasted eggplant. I hope you give it a try!
 
mrslarkin June 23, 2011
Loving this! The chili pepper water sounds great! What else do you like to put it on??
 
Author Comment
gingerroot June 24, 2011
Thanks, mrslarkin! To be honest, this is my first real exploration of chili pepper water, but off the top of my head I think it would be delicious with grilled meats or eggs (breakfast tacos!). People here use it on everything from beef stew to fried rice, anytime you want a sweet/sour/spicy kick.