Just like my mother makes it.
Back home, in Romania, we had to cook with the seasons. During summer time, there was an abundance of fresh produce to choose from and to cook with. And I’m not talking only about the farmers’ markets. Even in our small garden we would have veggies like salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lots of herbs and even fruits like apples, figs (yum!), cherries, sour cherries, plums and all sorts of berries. But during the harsh winters, among mountains of snow, in the land where the Black (salty) Sea would freeze overnight (no kidding), diversity was nil. Zero. Non-existent. Super clever people, such as my dear mother, would thus preserve fruits and veggies at the end of each summer to have and to
hold eat all throughout winter.
Roasted eggplants were some of the veggies she would preserve, frozen. And she would use them to make this wonderful traditional roasted eggplant salad that I’ve been eating and loving since I was little.
It’s very easy to make and does not require any special tools (it is even easier if you have a blender, but works equally well with a wooden spoon). It has a soft and creamy texture that makes the dish quite addictive. There wasn’t a time I made this that there were any next-day-leftovers. No matter how much I would make!
To make 1 serving I used:
1 eggplant 1/2 small onion, finely minced 1-2 TBSP fresh lemon juice 1 tsp mustard 1/5 cup mild extra virgin olive oil sea salt, to taste freshly ground black pepper, to taste fresh parsley, to serve
Poke the eggplant with a fork several times and simply roast it until the peel gets slightly burned and the flesh is soft. Roasting the eggplant can be done in several ways, depending on how you like to roast your veggies: on a hot stove, on an open flame, on the BBQ (this is how we made it), on hot coals or in the oven. Temperature and time differs according to the size of the eggplant. Roughly, for a medium sized one, it should take around 30 to 45 minutes in a hot oven at 200C. What is important is to turn the eggplant on all sides to ensure even cooking and, as previously mentioned, to poke it with a fork before cooking it, to let the steam and juices out.
Once it’s done, place it in a bowl and leave it covered for 10 to 15 minutes. ‘Steaming’ it like this will help to peel it more easily. Once peeled, chop it finely, put it in a bowl and, using a wooden spoon, mix it with the onion, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Add olive oil a bit at a time, mixing continuously.
Now grab your spoon, some freshly baked bread and dive in! Serve with fresh parsley and/or thin slices of shallots or red onion. And chili in our case (we have everything with chili!).