The people of the Levant are truly adept when it comes to working with eggplant. There are thousands of little variations of mezze and dishes that make use of this versatile fruit and Turkish people are brilliant with it.
Every time I cook with my friend Onur, he blows my mind with his delicate touch, making the most interesting of eggplant preparations.
I asked him to share a recipe for our inherited plate community for patlican salatasi, a mezze which combines smoky eggplant with fire roasted peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Serve this in the summer with some fresh, fluffy pita and your guests will go mad. It’s also great to keep around the house as a healthy, clean salad. Onur calls for parsley, but he’s made it with freshly torn basil and I with dill, which I particularly like for its fresh, earthy flavor.
You can use one of the techniques originally listed in the babaganoush recipe for cooking the eggplant. Onur prefers to burn it on the stovetop for its authentic, smoky flavor.
Serving Size: About 3-4 cups
2 large eggplant
2 cubanelle peppers (mild, light green, long peppers)
2 lemon, zested and juiced
½ medium onion, julienned
1 vine ripened tomato, julienned
1 garlic clove
1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup fresh parsley, dill or basil leaves rinsed and dried
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Good quality olive oil, to taste
First: Cook the eggplant using one of the following techniques:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with foil. Using a fork, poke a few holes around the entire eggplant. Bake until the skin is papery and the eggplant is tender and deflated.
Using a fork, poke a few holes around the entire eggplant. Place it directly on the grate of a burner on your stovetop. Turn the heat to medium and cook on all sides until the skin becomes papery and the eggplant begins to soften. Rotate on each side for about 5 minutes each. It’s done when tender on all sides.
Cast Iron Pan:
Place a cast iron skillet or flat top over your burner(s). Turn to medium high. Using a fork, poke a few holes around the entire eggplant. Place in the pan and cook on all sides until the skin becomes papery and the eggplant begins to soften. Rotate on each side for about 5 minutes each. It’s done when tender on all sides.
While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the peppers.
Over the open flame of your stove, burn the peppers until black on all sides and set aside to cool.
When the eggplant is cooked, immediately transfer to a cutting board with the stem side at the edge. Slice off the stem side, and place the board at the edge of your sink. Prop the opposite side up with a kitchen towel and gently press down on the eggplant, allowing all of the liquid to come out of the eggplant directly into the sink.
Make a long incision across the length of the eggplant, peel the skin off to the sides and immediately squeeze the lemon over the flesh. This helps to prevent oxidation.
Julienne the flesh and transfer to a large stainless steel bowl. Remove any extra liquid from the eggplant by carefully pouring off.
Cut the stem end off the peppers and remove the seeds. Turn skin side up. Using the edge of your blade, scrape away the black skin and rinse quickly to remove any larger bits.
Julienne the peppers and add to the eggplant along with onion, tomato, and garlic.
Once the eggplant cools slightly, roughly chop and add the herbs, lemon zest and juice.
Season to taste with vinegar, salt, peppers and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Cover and cool in the fridge at least 1-2 hours before serving. May be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.