Silken eggplant salad

Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Silken eggplant salad
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Remove the tough green calyxes and cut the eggplants into thirds or halves to fit in your steamer basket. Steam them over rapidly boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. The perfect point of doneness is when a knife will slip easily into the eggplant, but it is not so cooked that the skin wrinkles (this is when the flesh begins to pull away from the skin).


Remove the eggplant from the heat and set aside until it’s just cool enough to handle (the hotter the eggplant is at this point, the better it will absorb the dressing).


While the eggplant is cooling, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, rosemary and red pepper flakes in a mixing bowl.


Cut the eggplant pieces in half lengthwise. If the bottom ends are very thick, cut these in quarters. Cut again to make 2-inch pieces and add them to the dressing. Toss well to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve.


To serve, add the black pepper, then taste the eggplant and adjust the seasoning.

This is the best way to get to the elusive pure, sweet but earthy flavor of the eggplant. Surprisingly, when this was served to a crowd of non-eggplant enthusiasts recently, it disappeared before the tomato salad.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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