Recipe Corner: Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Cheese Salad
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into (1/2-inch-thick) slices (about 2 medium)
5 Roma or medium tomatoes, cut into1/4-inch slices or 12 cherry tomatoes halved
4 medium red, yellow, green or mixed bell peppers, cut into thick slices or wedges
3/4 pound Jack or Mozzarella cheese, cut in 1/4-inch slices or wedges*
1 large red onion, sliced thickly
1 medium head Romaine or red leaf lettuce, washed and separated, or choice of arugula, Belgian endive, kale, butter lettuce or spinach
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup black or Kalamata olives, sliced or diced
1 small bunch green onions, washed and chopped
Sea or Kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
Sprigs of fresh mint and fresh lemon wedges
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, optional
1/4 cup garbanzo beans, washed and drained, optional
Arrange eggplant slices on a rack set over a large tray and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let drain for about one hour, turning once. Pat eggplant slices dry and wipe with paper towels.
Brush eggplant with Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette and place on an oiled rack to grill. Grill for 5-6 minutes and turn and grill for 5-6 minutes or until eggplant is tender and browned. Remove from grill to a plate. Grill bell peppers and onions until lightly browned and remove to a plate.
Line a tray or platter with choice of lettuce or spinach and alternately layer eggplant, tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, and cheese. Garnish with basil leaves, parsley, green onions, olives and sprigs of mint, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, red pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Drizzle salad with Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette or fresh tomato sauce and top with toasted pine nuts or garbanzo beans, if desired.
Serve with a rustic French, garlic or pita bread and fresh lemon wedges.
Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette
3/4 cup olive oil
4-5 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Sea or Kosher salt and black pepper
Minced parsley and/or snipped fresh chives to taste
Place mustard in a medium bowl and whisk in vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, lemon zest, salt, pepper and herbs to taste. Slowly add olive oil and continue to whisk until mixture thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and chill until ready to use. This vinaigrette is best made just before it is to be used. Whisk again before serving. Makes about one cup.
*Instead of using Jack or Mozzarella cheese for this recipe, you can top salad with crumbled Feta or blue cheese, if desired.
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