Eggplant Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Roasted Eggplant Essence

   Yesterday, I blogged about how certain components of an ingredient can have different flavour qualities. Today, I’m looking at eggplant. Eggplant needs to be looked at a little deeper to find these unique flavours.

   In yesterday’s salad, grilling gives a wonderful flavour and multi-faceted texture, so I wanted to incorporate that flavour and texture again. The variability today involves roasting an eggplant until it goes completely soft and straining the roasted pulp for an intensely flavoured juice. This is eggplant essence and will dress tonight’s salad.

Eggplant Cucumber & Tomato Salad with Roasted Eggplant Essence

For the Roasted Eggplant Essence:

1/2 medium eggplant, cut from the whole eggplant lengthwise

   Preheat an oven to 190C/400F. Line a small baking sheet with foil.

   Score the cut side of the eggplant with shallow slashes using the tip of a sharp knife. Roast, cut side up, in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until golden on the cut side and very soft.

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   Scoop the roasted flesh from the skin, discarding the skin, and place the pulp in a strainer set over a bowl. Place a small plate or bowl over the pulp and weigh it down with a large can to press the juices from the pulp. Allow to strain for 30 minutes. When strained set aside the juice and reserve the pulp for another use (it freezes well and is a great neutral substitute for applesauce in a low fat muffin recipe).

For the salad:

1-1/2 cups cucumber, cut into thick strips (about 1cm x 6cm [1/2″ x 2″] pieces)

14-16 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup grilled eggplant slices, cut into rough 2cm/1″ pieces

Reserved Roasted Eggplant Essence

   In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber and tomato. Add the Roasted Eggplant Essence and allow to marinate briefly (10 minutes is fine). Gently fold in the grilled eggplant (it can go mushy if you’re too rough with it) and divide the salad between two bowls. Serves 2.

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