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Grilled Smoky Eggplant Salad
Cheryl & Bill Jamison
“The mellow grilled eggplant melds perfectly with the smoked paprika and tart sherry vinegar that define the flavor of the dressing in this decidedly Spanish salad. Curls of mild Manchego complete the Spanish theme. If you can't find smoked paprika, substitute Hungarian paprika—the grilled eggplant brings some smoke to the salad on its own.”
2 small eggplants, (about 1 pound total)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Olive oil cooking spray
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 small plum tomato, diced
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika, (see Note)
3 cups mixed baby salad greens
2 ounces Manchego cheese, cut into thin curls with a vegetable peeler (see Note)
1Preheat grill to medium.
2Cut stripes in each eggplant's peel by running a vegetable peeler down the length of it and repeating at about 1-inch intervals. Slice the eggplants into rounds ⅓ to ½ inch thick. Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with ½ teaspoon salt. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
3Blot the eggplant slices with paper towels and lightly coat both sides with olive oil cooking spray. Grill the eggplant, flipping halfway through, until soft and browned on both sides, 9 to 11 minutes total.
4Puree oil, vinegar, tomato, garlic, paprika and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a blender until well combined.
5Toss salad greens with half the vinaigrette in a medium bowl. Arrange the eggplant slices on 6 salad plates. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Place the salad greens over and between the eggplant slices, then scatter the cheese curls on top of each salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare eggplant and vinaigrette (Steps 1-4), cover and refrigerate separately for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Note: To experience the full flavor of this salad, it's worth seeking out the two signature Spanish ingredients: mild- flavored, smooth sheep-milk Manchego cheese and smoked paprika. If you can't find them, substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano and Hungarian paprika.
Cut Down on Dishes: A rimmed baking sheet is great for everything from roasting to catching accidental drips and spills. For effortless cleanup and to keep your baking sheets in tip-top shape, line them with a layer of foil before each use.