Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

INGREDIENTS
4 Eggplants (medium to large)
6 tomatoes on the vine (or whatever variety you like)
1 bunch of scallions
1/3 cup of orange juice (or pomegranate juice)
1 lemon
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint (or cilantro or basil)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Greek yogurt for serving (optional)
Kalamata olives (optional)
Cubes of, sharp cheese (Parmaggiano, or Romano) for serving (optional)
Pita bread for serving (optional)
METHOD: This will be enough for about 12 cups so it will last for several days in the refrigerator. That’s actually better because as it melds, it gets tastier. Any longer than that and it gets a bit watery but the taste remains. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the eggplants and poke them with a fork (about three rows around the eggplant and four levels). This will prevent the eggplant from exploding in the oven. Place the eggplants on a baking dish and let them bake for about an hour. When the eggplants are soft to the touch, take them out of the oven, cut the stems off and slice them either in rounds or lengthwise. Place them in a colander or other strainer, over a bowl, salt them well and let them drain of liquid. This will take any of the bitterness out of the eggplant and makes the dish “meatier.” I like to let it drain for 24 hours so, I use a strainer that fits inside a large Tupperware and I place it in the refrigerator. But you needn’t wait that long if you don’t have the time. Put the orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and let the mix boil down to a molasses. I use orange juice because I like it and it’s less expensive than pomegranate juice. But, any sweet juice will work just fine. This is a matter of taste. Keep an eye on the pan, don’t let the mix burn. While the OJ is reducing, core and squeeze the pulp from the tomatoes and chop them into 1/2 inch bits (or so). Place them in a bowl, add the salt and pepper and mix. Chop the scallions into a 1/4 dice, add to the tomatoes. Whack the garlic with the flat end of a large knife to remove the skin and crush it a little. Don’t chop the garlic add it to the tomatoes and scallions. Add the juice of the lemon and the molasses, which will be done before you complete chopping. Mix it well and let it sit for at least an hour. The salt brings out the flavors of the ingredients.
COURSE: Side
PREPARATION TIME: 30 Minutes
COOKING TIME: 30 Minutes

 

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