Romanian smoked eggplant salad

This is a recipe close to my heart, something that I have always been excited to eat, for as long as I can remember! The aroma of the freshly smoked eggplants is incredibly appetizing, and having this salad fresh, while still slightly warm, is perfection! This is the most popular way to prepare eggplants back home, and we always char the eggplants on an open flame - it is the best way to achieve that smoked aroma. If that is not available to you, I find that a grill pan will get you quite similar results, some of the eggplants' juices get to be released through the cooking and as they burn on the grill pan they lend the smoked flavor to the eggplants. The eggplant salad below was extra special as it was entirely prepared by my mother, who else to bring you the taste of home?

 Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1/2 red onion
- 4 Tablespoons sunflower/canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar/ freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more, to taste
- sea salt, to taste

Char the eggplant on an open flame, if possible (if not, you could use a grill pan or even roast the eggplants whole, in the oven, after you cut 2- 3 lengthwise slits to allow the juices to escape). When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplant, place it in a strainer, or on a tilted cutting board, and let sit for about 15 - 30 minutes for the water to drain. Mash the eggplant using a wooden/ceramic/stainless cleaver or knife, then place it in a bowl and add the sunflower oil, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well between each addition. Add the onions, the vinegar (or lemon juice) and season with sea salt, to taste. Serve with your favorite bread and tomatoes! Enjoy!

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