The eggplants finally started producing and they are growing fast. On the northeastern Mediterranean shores August is the month when eggplants are prominently featured on the family table.
This dates back to the time when year round eggplant production and refrigeration wasn’t available, so when the shiny fruit ripened all at the same time, one had to figure out quickly how to cook and preserve it. Since eggplants are very productive, many recipes incorporating them graced Balkan and middle-eastern pantry shelves, providing valuable nutrition for the winter months. The names of traditional eggplant preserves resonate with the flavors and sounds of the countries they originated from: zacusca, moussaka, baba-ganoush, imam bayildi. Some of the flavors may be familiar, others surprise you and make you wonder how you never thought of them before: a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg completely transforms a ground meat or eggplant dish.
Here is the Turkish eggplant salad recipe. It is served on bread or toast, garnished with chopped parsley and tomato slices.
- 3 medium eggplants
- 1 cup of oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- juice from one lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Pierce the eggplants with a fork and place them on a grill or in the oven, turning them until the skin is charred evenly and the flesh turns soft. Peel the skins quickly under cold running water. This task is a little tricky, because you have to do it while the eggplants are still hot. Place them on a draining board, salt them freely and get as much of the liquid out of them as possible, to remove bitterness and prevent the salad from becoming runny.
After they are completely cool, mash them with a fork, add the finely chopped onion, the lemon juice and as much salt and pepper as you like. Add the oil at the end, slowly and in small drips, whisking continuously until completely incorporated, then adding some more. The consistency should be reminiscent of mayonnaise, smooth textured and shiny.
Garnish with tomato slices and parsley and serve on bread.
Do not use a blender. It will smash the seeds and mix their hot bitter juices into the salad.