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Grilled Eggplant Salad
“This easy grilled eggplant salad is the healthy side dish you'll want to serve all summer long. It comes together in just 25 minutes and can be served warm or at room temperature, so it's equally suited to casual parties and weeknight dinners. The combination of eggplant, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, red onions and fresh herbs makes for a salad that's full of bright flavors and colors. Serve it with grilled chicken or fish or as part of a vegetarian mezze platter with dips like hummus and pita bread.”
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons za’atar (see Tips)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon), divided
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into ½-inch-thick slices
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
½ medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges through the root
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
¾ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon salt
1Preheat a grill to medium-high.
2Combine oil, za'atar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Brush 1 side of eggplant slices with half of the oil mixture; reserve the remaining mixture. Oil the grill rack (see Tips). Grill the eggplant, uncovered, turning often, until tender and grill marks appear on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Cut the eggplant into ¼-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl.
3Coat bell pepper quarters and onion wedges with cooking spray. Grill, uncovered, until tender and charred, about 5 minutes. Chop the peppers into ¾-inch pieces. Remove and discard onion stem. Add the peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley, scallions and mint to the bowl with the eggplant.
4Add lemon juice and salt to the reserved oil mixture; whisk to combine. Drizzle over the vegetables and toss to coat.
Tips: The Middle Eastern spice blend za'atar gives you big flavor from just one ingredient: it's a mix of thyme, sumac, salt, sesame seeds and sometimes other herbs. Look for it in the bulk-spice section of natural-foods stores, in specialty-foods stores, in the spice section of some grocery stores or online. To make your own mix: Combine 1 tsp. each ground sumac, sesame seeds and dried thyme with ¼ tsp. salt.
To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)