Israeli spicy eggplant salad
I just bought Strauss's spicy eggplant salad from the store, love this stuff, was wondering if anyone have a recipe or some pointers on how to make this at home.
I know from ingredients label that it contain eggplant, tomato, tomato paste, bell pepper, onion, spices, etc.
(first item under eggplant salads
I checked out the website hoping that the Hebrew would narrow down the choices some. Unfortunately, it doesn't (chatzilim pikanti translates to spicy eggplant - duh). If you fell in love with the eggplant to the right, Eggplant with Tahini, this would be easy. Oh well.
This is a paraphrase from Janna Gur's "The Book of New Israeli Food."
Romanian-style Roasted Eggplant Salad
the flesh of 2 roasted eggplants
1/2 c, oil
3 or more cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
2 grated onions
2 grated tomatoes
Mix all ingredients together gently.
Roasted Eggplant with Red Peppers (Bulgarian Kiopolo)
2-3 roasted red peppers, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. oil
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
flesh of 2 roasted eggplants
Mix all ingredients together.
And this one is from "The Food of Israel" by Sherry Ansky
Eggplant with Peppers
2 lb. eggplant, roasted
1/4 c. olive oil
lemon juice to taste
Chopped garlic to taste
4-5 roasted red peppers or 2-3 hot green peppers, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper
1 Tbs. white vinegar
Mash warm eggplant flesh, add oil slowly to blend. Add in lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic. If using roasted red peppers, place eggplant mixture, S&P, vinegar and peppers in food processor and process until smooth. If using hot peppers, just stir them into the eggplant mixture.
I'm not sure if any of these are what you're looking for but it seems that they might form a good basis - with a little mixing and matching - to come up with a version you like.
I live in Israel, where we have an endless variety of eggplant salads. All the above recipes will work fine. The spices surely include cumin and hot paprika, which we put in everything here. Also don't forget lemon juice.
The most delicious way I've found to prepare this kind of eggplant relish is to fry the eggplants twice. Kind of like refried beans. I got this idea from the Paula Wolfert cookbook on eastern Mediterranean cooking. First fry the slices in olive oil until golden brown (don't forget to first salt and drain the slices to remove bitter juices). Then mash up the slices with some garlic, add hot paprika and cumin (of course) and fry the mash again in the same oil, until the liquids are cooked off. Put the mash in a colander to cool and drain off excess oil. Add lemon juice and minced parsley. Some pomegranate seeds if you really want to be fancy.
You will have a beautiful, red-tinted spread that is the quintessence of middle-eastern cooking. It's kind of a lot of work, but you can make a big batch and eat it all week. The flavor improves in the fridge. You'll give up tuna for your sandwiches and use this stuff instead.
Left out one instruction. Before slicing peel the eggplant lengthwise in strips of about one inch width. Leave half the eggplant unpeeled, so that you are alternating peeled and unpeeled parts. You should have three lengthwise strips of peel left on the eggplant, alternating with three lines of peeled eggplant. This is a very smart technique. If you don't peel the eggplant at all, it will buckle up during cooking, and detach from the skin. If you peel it entirely, it turns to mash, and you also lose the color and smoky flavor of the cooked peel.
MarkC, the tip about half-peeling the eggplant is such a good one. I think the skin is such a vital part of any eggplant salad like this, and I've never understood why most people get rid of it -- but it can be a bit too much at times.
The real reason you salt eggplant isn't because of bitterness -- that's one of those old bits of misinformation passed down through the years. But you SHOULD salt it before frying it, because it draws moisture out and collapses cells, making the eggplant absorb much less oil. Unsalted eggplant is a fat sponge, which is why so many people (myself as a child included) can't stand it.
As long as you don't get overgrown eggplants, you won't find much problem with bitterness in today's versions.