Serious Eats: Recipes

The Secret Ingredient (Saffron): Roasted Eggplant Salad with Saffron Yogurt

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

It is a widely touted fact that saffron is the world's most expensive spice, and that it is collected by hand—the stamens of a crocus flower, plucked and dried. Thankfully, it only takes a pinch of saffron to make a dish.

This salad is my knock-off of an appetizer I had at The Red Bicycle in Santorini, Greece, last summer. The eggplant is soft and tender, and just crispy-burnt around the edges. It is draped in a rich sauce of nothing but Greek yogurt and saffron, and the salad is topped with torn fresh basil and crunchy toasted pine nuts. It's not an exact replication—the rendition the owner taught me has brown sugar and pomegranate seeds thrown in the mix—but this is Red Bicycle redux, and it's pretty fabulous. It has what saffron always imparts: the color, the flavor, the smell of the exotic. There's nothing uncommon about the ingredients in this dish (even saffron stocks the shelves of every grocery store in the country) but saffron still has that magic spell, like a free ticket halfway around the world.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

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