Side dishes have never been my forte. I am more the main entrée type of gal – that is where I sparkle.
But last summer I was at my friend Tanya’s house when she was whipping up a last minute BBQ – a typical weekly occurrence – and in between taking sips of her sauvignon blanc and putting band-aids on her son’s knees, she whipped up a salad that is nothing more than sheer genius.
You see, my friend Tanya and her husband Bo are my favorite type of chefs, because they really are not chefs, just real people who love to cook and love food. Their BBQs are rarely planned ahead of time but also end up being some sort of organized chaos that ends in laughter echoing from their backyard at three in the morning.
Tanya is one of the only people who I can actually stand next to in the kitchen and feel like we are actually creating a dish together rather than me dictating a recipe and her attempting to execute it. Bo is the so-called foodie of the two, constantly whipping up savory concoctions in his kitchen and on his grill and experimenting with new flavors. He uses fresh herbs from his own garden and random other ingredients he picks up at one of those Asian stores we all love but fear going to due to the unusually strange aromas billowing out of it.
Ahhhhhh, but I digress, back to the salad. While the men grilled brontosaurus-sized meats outside, the girls all huddled around the kitchen island and sipped wine while sharing stories, recipes and anecdotes. I noticed Tanya peeling freshly grilled whole eggplants, tomatoes and chopping cilantro. She then combined all these ingredients in a square dish, sliced them roughly with a knife and added some salt and cilantro and placed it on the kitchen counter for the girls to munch on. I took a bite and was instantly hooked. Holy Julia Child! It was amazing! This salad was so purely Tanya. Simple, satisfying and delicious.
In her usual humble manner, when I went to compliment her on it she claimed the recipe was not hers. Whether it is hers, his or someone’s from a land faraway, recipes are meant to share, and so this one is for you A simple and savory salad to go along with any of your favorite meals!
Grilled Eggplant Salad
5 Large Eggplants
5 Medium Sized Tomatoes – Roma Tomatoes work great for this
1 Large Onion – Paper Skin Removed
2 Large Red Bell Peppers
4 Cloves of garlic, minced on microplane
1 Bunch of Cilantro – very roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Roast all the vegetables on a grill turned to high or in a 450-degree oven. Making sure to rub them all down with olive oil. And prick the eggplants with a fork to keep them from exploding.
2. The tomatoes and peppers will cook the fastest so keep an eye on them while cooking. They should take about 15- 20 minutes. The eggplants take about 20-25. But again keep an eye on them turning them every 7 minutes or so.
3. Once the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are charred, throw them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 15-30 minutes. This makes the skin come off easier. Place the onions on the side.
4. Peel the skin off of all the vegetables except the onions and toss in a square dish. Cut all the vegetables very roughly in the dish. Since they are all so soft they will cut easily.
5. Cut the onion into small dice, roughly and combine with vegetables.
6. Add cilantro, garlic, season to taste and enjoy