Grilled Eggplant Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette + A Giveaway!
Even though eggplants are available all year-round, they reach their peak during the summer. I was at the store today, and the skin looked very shiny and pretty on the Japanese eggplants, so I picked up several. I made Indian eggplant dip, but since I still had a few leftover, I decided to have some fun with them. Since these were Japanese eggplants, I made an Asian salad flavored with lemongrass and Thai basil.
First, I salted the eggplants to extract moisture from the vegetables and reduce their bitterness. A quick trip to the grill, and the eggplants were ready to eat. To give the salad dressing an Asian twist, I used lemongrass, sugar cane vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and wasabi for a little heat. I added some crunch to the salad with crushed peanuts. How easy it that?
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Yields: 6 servings3 Japanese eggplants
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar cane vinegar (or any acidic ingredient)
3 tablespoons fresh lemongrass (see tips), finely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ponzu soy sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar, freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 cloves pickled garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons Thai basil leaves, torn in small pieces
2 tablespoons garlic-flavored roasted peanuts (or any nut you prefer), coarsely crushed
Prepping the lemongrass:
Wash the lemongrass. Remove all the white powder from the leaves. Cut the stalk in half. Crush the younger part with the back of a chef's knife and set it aside (you can use it for making broth).
Cut the remaining stalk into extremely thin slices using a chef's knife. In a mortar and pestle, grind the thin slices of lemongrass, then transfer and mix everything using a mini food processor. It should turn into a fine moist powder. Gather 3 tablespoons and store the rest (see tips).
Prepping the eggplants:
Trim the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise and slice them into 5-6 pieces. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect the excess moisture). Place the eggplant pieces on the rack and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then pat dry using paper towels. Drizzle the eggplants with olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of lemongrass. Toss well.
Brush the grill with oil. Place the eggplants on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until you get grill marks.
Making Asian salad dressing:
In a sealable jar, dissolve the palm sugar in vinegar. Add wasabi paste, the remaining lemongrass, pickled garlic and olive oil. Season with soy sauce. Cover with a lid and shake well until combined.
Place the grilled eggplants on a large serving platter. Drizzle with the salad dressing. Toss well.
Garnish with Thai basil leaves and sprinkle with peanuts.
You can find lemongrass in any Asian market. Lemongrass is sold in bunches of 5 stalks, so plan other dishes using lemongrass. You could also prep the lemongrass and store in the freezer by placing a few tablespoons in an ice-cube tray.
You could use fresh garlic instead of pickled garlic but the garlic flavor is going to be a lot stronger. You can find pickled garlic in most Asian markets.
You could create the same salad using zucchini in place of eggplant.
Thai basil tastes very different from sweet basil. It imparts a strong, earthy fragrance to the salad. To prevent the leaves from bruising and darkening too fast, tear them with your fingers at the very last minutes, then toss them into the salad. Serve immediately.
If wasabi is too spicy to your taste, you could add finely chopped raw red onion for a mild spicy flavor.
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!
Published By: on August 31, 2011.