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Packed with flavor this Sicilian eggplant salad is a teriffic way to get the family to eat its veggies. It's amazingly simple to prepare and even more delicious. (Vegetarians can omit the ham.)
- 3 small eggplants, unpeeled
- salt water
- 1⁄2 lb virginia baked ham, diced
- 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1⁄2 tablespoon basil, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 tablespoon oregano, roughly chopped
- crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1⁄4 cup salad oil
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1⁄2 cup red pepper, julienne
- 1 small mild red onion, sliced thin and separated into rings
- 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 cup grape tomatoes, for garnish
- 1⁄4 cup oil-cured black olive, for garnish
- Cut eggplants into 1/2-inch cubes (DO NOT PEEL); add to boiling salted water in a large, deep sacuepot. Boil gently (6-8 minutes), uncovered; stir ocassionally. Drain well.
- Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl; add the diced ham. Set aside.
- To a medium-size mixing bowl whisk together the vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder, basil, oregano, and pepper flakes. Gradually beat in the oils, lemon juice and lemon zest until well combined.
- Pour the marinade over the eggplant and ham; add the red peppers and the onion rings; toss gently. Chill for 1 hour.
- Just before serving, mix in the parsley. Mound the salad on a large, chilled serving platter; garnish with tomatoes and olives.