Towards the end of the summer, eggplant tends to get the brunt of my vegetable exhaustion. By the time I reach for it, it will have been languishing in the crisper drawer until a bit too shriveled to eat in any way not roasted and pureed. So when I saw a new style of eggplant recipe in Susan Feniger's Street Food, I jumped on it.
Feniger's recipe is an interpretation of Eastern European eggplant salad made bold with a stewed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, and a generous scoop of brown sugar. The eggplant is salted and then coated in a bright parsley-scallion pesto before being fried in copious amounts of oil. After it has been reduced to a silky, rich version of its former self, the eggplant spends a quick 10 minutes stewing with the tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar. It may not be the sexiest eggplant dish imaginable, but the final salad is certainly a unique take on the aubergine.
Why I picked this recipe: A new take on eggplant is always welcome in my house.
What worked: Salting, searing, and stewing eggplant yields a supple and silky texture, perfect for soaking up the flavorful tomato-vinegar mixture. The final dish tastes good hot, warm, and cool, making for a versatile summer dish.
What didn't: The pesto coating on the eggplant stuck firmly to the skillet, even when using the two tablespoons of oil suggested. A quick switch to a non-stick skillet solved the problem.
Suggested tweaks: Besides a pan swap, I'd probably dial back the sugar just a bit (1/3 cup instead of 1/2) next time. I'd also like to try serving the salad with watercress, goat cheese, and sourdough bread, as Feniger suggests in the headnote.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Susan Feniger's Street Food to give away.