Roasted Japanese Eggplant Salad with Pine Nuts and Capers
Source: Annie Somerville, Executive Chef of Greens Restaurant (July 15, 2008).
The rustic flavors of this exceptionally good summer salad bring out all the complexity of the roasted eggplant. Crunchy, toasted pine nuts and fragrant basil balance the little bites of pungent capers, while balsamic and red wine vinegars add both sweetness and intensity. This recipe is similar to caponata, but the eggplant is roasted – not fried – so it is lighter and much easier to prepare. We use slender, firm Japanese eggplant here; it holds its texture when roasted and absorbs far less oil than traditional globe eggplant. This is a great dish for a party; serve it with croutons, olives, and marinated fresh mozzarella.
2 pounds Japanese eggplant, sliced
½ inch thick on the diagonal
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
¼ large red onion, finely diced, about ½ cup
Red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
20 large basil leaves, stacked and sliced into thin ribbons, about ¼ cup
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 375º F. Toss the eggplant in a large bowl with the oil, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Lay the slices in a single layer on baking sheets and roast for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes more. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, slice it into ¼-inch thick diagonal strips.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop in the onions for 20 seconds. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.
- Combine the eggplant, capers, pine nuts, basil, and onions in a large bowl. Toss gently with the balsamic vinegar and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar, if needed. If the salad is tart, add a pinch or two of sugar.