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Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Eggplant is like a sponge. Salting it dries out moisture and firms up the flesh and deep-frying it ensures it cooks evenly until creamy throughout. I assure you that this process is well worth your time.

Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley with tender stems
  • one clove garlic, chopped*
  • two small green chiles, such as Thai; seeds removed, chopped, divided*
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 3/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • about 2 cups Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 pound small tomatoes (about eight), cut into wedges
  • 1/2 pound Parisian cucumbers (about three), sliced
  • *I altered the recipe to suit my family who does not care for spicy chiles.  I doubled the garlic and omitted the chile.

Instructions

  • Purée the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and half of the chiles and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Season Herb oil with salt and set aside.
  • Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and set yogurt sauce aside.
  • Place cut eggplant in a colander, set in the sink, season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and let sit 30 minutes to drain, then pat dry.
  • Fit a medium pot with a deep fry thermometer. Pour the vegetable oil to measure 2 inches, heat over medium heat until the thermometer registers 375° F. (note:I didn’t have a thermometer.  I let it get hot then between batches let it get hot again before adding the next batch.  It worked fine.  If you overcrowd the pot the eggplant will not brown. I did it in three batches.)
  • Working in batches and returning oil to 375°f  between batches, fry eggplants turning often until golden brown and tender, about five minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon transfer the eggplants to paper towels and drain. Season with salt and let cool.
  • Combine eggplants in a large bowl with tomatoes, cucumbers and remaining chiles. Drizzle with some reserve herbal oil and toss to combine. Season salad with salt. Spoon reserved yogurt sauce onto a platter. Top with salad mixture and drizzle with more herbal oil.
  • The herb oil and yogurt sauce can be made one day in advance. I covered and chilled separately.
By Sally Roeckell
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. She has photographed people, food and life all over the US and in Spain, Basque Country, The South of France and Paris. She regularly shops at Heinen’s for the family dishes she features on 365 Barrington and on her website at TableAndDish.com.

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