As you may already know, I can’t have enough of anything eggplanty. I absolutely love this vegetable. It is, perhaps, the most versatile vegetable on earth (eggplant haters, did you hear that?). Really, eggplant can take so many forms in cooking; it can be fried, grilled, stuffed, and sweetened (yes, they make sweet eggplant preserves in Morocco and in Azerbaijan and maybe somewhere else), yet, it never fails to please one’s gastronomic senses with its unrivaled tantalizing taste.
Plain and simple—eggplant rocks! I cook with it often, as my ever eggplant craving palate tends to throw frequent fits demanding something made with the vegetable. I had another one of such fits yesterday and to suppress it, I set out to make my favorite eggplant salad with yogurt and mint. This salad is flavorful, refreshing, and downright delicious and making it is always as easy as a pie.
Here’s what I did. I first removed the bitterness from the eggplant cut into small cubes, then I fried those cubes in sizzling hot oil and drained them on paper towels. Some plain yogurt, crushed garlic, and mint added—the already delectable taste of the eggplant was jazzed up even further and the ultimate deliciousness was born. My fit’s peaceful departure ensued soon after.
Now, let’s talk about mint. You can use either fresh mint or dried mint. It’s a matter of taste. I personally prefer dried mint. Whichever form you choose, rest assured that mint, in general, has an unparalleled ability to exalt the flavor of plain yogurt like no other and it is a great flavor pal of eggplant’s, too. Hence, the deliciousness. Enjoy!
Eggplant Salad with Yogurt and Mint
Serves about 4
Note: Adjust the amount of yogurt, garlic and mint, to taste.
3 pounds (1.5 kg) dark skinned eggplants (such as Japenese or Italian)
1/2 cup or more, if needed, olive oil, for frying
about 2 cups plain yogurt
2 gloves garlic, peeled and crushed
chopped fresh mint or crushed dried mint, to taste
salt, to taste
1. Peel the eggplant and cut it into small cubes (about 1/2 inch). Remove their bitterness as follows. Put a colander in the sink. Arrange the eggplant cubes in the colander, sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of salt. Place a weight, such as a plate or lid, on top. Leave for 20 minutes, to allow the bitter dark juices to drain. Rinse and squeeze dry. An alternative way to extract the eggplants’ bitterness is as follows. Place the cubes in a bowl filled with cold water and add 2 tablespoons salt. Put a weight on top and leave for about 20 minutes. Rinse and squeeze dry.
2. In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is sizzling hot (never warm! make it hot!), drop the eggplant cubes in batches (do not overcrowd), and fry until golden all over, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
3. When cool, put in a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, garlic, and mint. Season with salt, to taste. Serve slightly chilled.