thai vegetable and smoky eggplant salad

I blame the ubiquitous sandwich shop offering for vegetarians, “roasted fall vegetable wrap, coated with gobs of salad oil and not a droplet of originality” (fine, I’ve embellished that last part), for the fact that until two years ago I ate not a lick of eggplant. That, and eggplant parmesan, but my rant about melted cheese-coated things – and my husband’s baffled expression when he learned of this blasphemy – for another time.

Eggplant was grey, flat, dull, mushy, and jumped from undercooked to overcooked so rapidly, you’d need a compass and a jewelers loupe to locate its fleeting tasteful moment. I lacked both, as did apparently everyone who had every tried to change my beliefs about the mighty aubergine, that is everyone except the woman who was to become my mother-in-law.

Her eggplant caviar is like a shot of espresso for the tastebuds with copious amounts vinegar, garlic and salt stealing the show, while the eggplant hangs out in the background, keeping it real. It is both nutty and neutral and full of substance, and that’s the kind of eggplant I can get really along with.

zesting the lemon

Which brings us to this evening’s recipes yanked from Food & Wine’s feature on London-based cookbook author Celia Brooks Brown new book, World Vegetarian Classics. The thought of mixing charred eggplant with chiles and lime, avocado and tomatoes has gotten stuck in my head since I first saw the recipe two weeks ago. While I was at it, I threw down her lemony spaghetti with yogurt cream, spinach, parmesan and hot peppers.

I won’t even pretend I followed either of these recipes to the letter, but the gesture was there. I also won’t pretend I fell in love with either dish, but I’m difficult like that and you, like this guy I ate dinner with, might like it enough to go for seconds. I can assure you, however, that the eggplant is anything but feeble, sort of like a twice removed Thai/Turkish cousin of eggplant caviar. Also, tasty.

spaghetti with lemon, chile and creamy spinach

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25 comments on thai vegetable and smoky eggplant salad

  1. admin

    Live, baby. I haven’t told a lot people about the new site but I’m warming it – and myself up – by getting some content up there and making sure everything looks okay.

  2. I love your blog and have had great success with many of your recipes! I got a few eggplants in my farm share this week and looked to your recipes for something to make. I made the recipe with mixed results – the method for cooking the eggplant was wonderful and I’ll definitely do it again. I really liked the suggestions for the raw veggies. I served it all over quinoa. However I didn’t really like the dressing/sauce. It was too citrusy and not sweet enough. Perhaps more of a peanut sauce would work better? Just a suggestion…

    Thanks for the tips and keep up the great blog!

  3. Gail

    I am listening to your Clean Plate Club podcast with The Amateur Gourmet and you just mentioned that this was your very first SK post, and I had to go and find it. I am proud to say that I started reading your posts back in 2007 or 2008 and I KNEW YOU WERE AWESOME. :) I am so happy that SK has become crazy popular (for you) and that you continue to post recipes that I want to eat (for me!).

    I’m equally picky, and seem to love the same sorts of food – fritters, feta, sweets, meh to the whole world of boneless chicken breasts. I also appreciate how you find recipes that you think might convince you to like some thing. I am always scouring recipes for stuff I hate, seeing if it might actually work to make me a convert. Hello, roasted cauliflower with breadcrumbs, anchovies and garlic.

    Anyway, thanks for your great blog!

  4. Elaine

    I am having problems with the new format on my iPad.
    I can not get to the recipes, only the descriptions on the older recipes and the arrow to continue from the new emails does not go anywhere.
    I miss the recipes.

  5. wildlycraving

    Deb, I got sucked in by the photo, but waylaid by your description of your Mother In Law’s eggplant caviar. Where is THAT recipe, please-please?

      1. wildlycraving

        Thank you for the super-speedy answer! I love-love-love eggplant and have never tried such a recipe, so having one that is highly recommended (and I do love pickled things) makes it great. Thanks again!

  6. Deb Smith

    I’m having so much fun with your eggplant and zucchini recipes Deb. I’m marooned in the boondocks with my garden and dog to keep me company, and your companionable writing and recipes. Knee deep in squash and soon, eggplant. Cheers!