I love eggplant. This is a relatively new occurrence for me. I never hated it before, I just didn’t really “get” it. I love that they are these gorgeous purple orbs (okay, yes, eggplant comes in more colors than just purple, but my eye really focuses on the purple ones!). They beckon at the farmers market or in the grocery, saying “buy me! bring me home!”. But I would bring a large eggplant home, and over and over, I would end up with a flavorless, spongy, less-than-appetizing vegetable. Oh, sure, I’d try to grill it or saute it, but it never lived up to my expectations. I was nearly ready to give up on eggplant.
Then I discovered baba ganoush. Apparently, roasting eggplant turns it from spongy and flavorless to creamy, velvety, and delicious. I could seriously sit down to a bowl of baba ganoush and polish it off all by myself. It’s that good.
That baba ganoush launched an entirely new relationship with eggplant. I think my chief mistake prior to that point in time was that I was undercooking it. Since I learned how to make baba ganoush, I also have fallen in love with eggplant in dishes like moussaka and ratatouille. I’ve even since returned to the grill with eggplant, making this too-hot-to-turn-on-the-oven grilled ratatouille.
Now that it’s starting to get cooler and summer is coming to an end, I thought a warm salad would be a perfect way to enjoy the end of eggplant season. Since we are also nearing the end of the (over)abundance of summer squash, I thought it would be perfect to include it in the mix as well. Paired with some mint from my garden and a lovely tomato jam, this dish was a great way to say “farewell” to summer.
What, you don’t have tomato jam? Well, I’m sorry to say, I won’t share any of mine. It’s too delicious, and I’m going to be stingy. Stephanie over at Recipe Renovator was giving away some tomato jam a while back, as part of a huge blog event (hosted by Bloggers Without Borders) to raise money for Jennie, who unexpectedly lost her husband, and I bid on it. Well, I won, and not long after, a jar of delicious jam arrived at my doorstep. After I’d opened it and eaten a few spoonfuls, (it was good enough to eat by itself) I thought I ought to incorporate it into a meal. The jam really made this salad into something special. Stephanie does share her recipe here, so if you don’t have tomato jam, you can make your own! I haven’t tried it, but I bet that you could skip the canning part if you wish and simply freeze some of it. That is, if you don’t eat it all before then.
Warm Eggplant and Summer Squash Salad
1 large or 2 small purple eggplants, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2 yellow summer squash, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1-2 T coconut oil, warmed enough for easy brushing
2-3 T tomato jam
1 T chopped fresh mint, plus a few additional mint leaves for garnish
ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler and line two baking sheets with foil. Spread out the eggplant and squash slices in a single layer on the foil. Brush with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt; flip and oil and salt the other sides. Place the baking sheets, one at a time, under the broiler for a minute or two, or until the vegetables are browned. Flip the vegetables and brown the other sides. (Be sure to stick around – walking away when something is under the broiler ensures that you burn it!) Remove the vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Add tomato jam and mint to the bowl and gently toss to coat the vegetables. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if needed. Serve warm or near room temperature.
This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.