This is the kind of recipe that I adore. The flavors are up my alley and it’s perfect for summer entertaining which you know I love to do! Like many recipes, but especially this one, I never make this the same way twice. I use roasted red peppers or cherry tomatoes. I swap different herbs depending on what else I have and what else I am serving. I love olives, and there are lots of kinds that work here, otherwise capers are great too. Read through the post to get some other ideas. Not only is this delicious, it’s GOOD FOR YOU!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- has a rich, smoky flavor
- great for summer entertaining or to meal prep for the week
- gets in your veggies and other plant foods
- versatile as a dip, salad or topping for protein
Charred Eggplant Salad Ingredients
- Eggplant: is a summer vegetable. Look for an eggplant with tight skin (no bruises) and a green top.
- Roasted red pepper: adds a nice sweetness. I usually keep a jar of roasted red peppers on hand or you can use fresh cherry tomatoes (which I did here.)
- Kalamata olives: I love the brininess and saltiness of olives here, but you can use half the amount of capers instead
- Pine nuts: I store pine nuts in the freezer to preserve freshness. To toast pine nuts, warm them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown. Another option is to place them on a baking dish and toast them in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Italian markets are a great place to find high quality pine nuts.
- Pita chips: add a nice crunch. Look for grain-free crackers (such as Simple Mills) if you can’t have gluten or grains.
- Fresh herbs: add a freshness to any recipe. I love parsley, mint, basil, and/or dill here.
- Lemon juice: a small amount of acid, like lemon juice, provides a nice tanginess and balance. Or you can make a lemon tahini dressing to drizzle over this salad.
How to Make Charred Eggplant Salad
- Place the eggplant directly on a gas burner over medium and char the eggplant on all sides, turning every few minutes until the skin is blackened and the flesh is tender. This will take about 20 minutes. You can also do this on a sheet pan under the broiler, but poke the eggplant a few times with a paring knife.
- When the eggplant is charred all over, remove from the heat and place in a bowl and cover it for 15 minutes to continue to soften the eggplant.
- Transfer the eggplant to a cutting board and take off the stem. Remove the skin and discard. Do not rinse the eggplant. Chop the eggplant into bite-size pieces and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Season generously with salt. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and black pepper to taste. Add the remaining salad ingredients plus the dressing of your choice. You can watch me make this on Instagram. I posted a reel!
Tips for Making Charred Eggplant Salad
- Try to open any windows in the kitchen when charring the eggplant since there will be a smoky aroma.
- Allow the eggplant to steam in a bowl, covered, after it has charred to help soften it. Do not rinse it after peeling the skin.
- Feel free to double this recipe if you need to serve this as a main salad. You can also add feta to it. Yum!
Substitutions for Charred Eggplant Salad
- Olives: try using half the amount of capers
- Roasted red pepper: cherry tomatoes
- Pine nuts: skip or swap in sunflower seeds, 1/2 the amount of sesame seeds, or almonds
- Pita chips: grain-free crackers such as Simple Mills almond flour crackers
- Eggplant: well, you might want to try another recipe LOL. Otherwise, you can grill a few zucchini!
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- 1 large Italian eggplant*
- Sea salt
- 1 roasted red pepper, seeded and diced or 1 cup cherry tomatoes,
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped or 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- a big handful of pita chips or grain-free crackers, crumbled (I usually use
- the broken pieces at the bottom of the bag)
- Fresh herbs: a handful of flat-leaf parsley, mint, basil or dill, chopped
- Dressing: juice of half a lemon and a generous drizzle of olive oil OR
- lemon-tahini dressing OR a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and olive oil
- Place the eggplant directly on a gas burner over medium and char the eggplant on all sides, turning every few minutes until the skin is blackened and the flesh is tender. This will take about 20 minutes. You can also do this on a sheet pan under the broiler, but poke the eggplant a few times with a paring knife and set your oven rack 6 inches from the heat source.
- When the eggplant is charred all over, remove from the heat and place in a bowl and cover it for 15 minutes to continue to soften the eggplant. If the eggplant is charred but still feels really firm, finish it on a baking dish in a 400 degree oven for an extra 10-15 minutes and then cover and let steam at room temp until very soft.
- Transfer the eggplant to a cutting board and take off the stem. Remove the skin and discard. It's easy to peel the charred skin off with your fingers. Do not rinse the eggplant. Chop the eggplant into bite-size pieces and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Season generously with salt. Start with ½ - ¾ teaspoon and black pepper to taste. Add the remaining salad ingredients plus the dressing of your choice. Taste and serve. I like to serve this warm or room temp. If you make it ahead and refrigerate it, allow it to come to room temp before serving.
To add protein to this dish and make it more substantial, add 1 cup of cooked white beans or chickpeas, or crumble some feta on top.
If you want to use this as a dip, skip the crumbled pita chips and serve chips on the side. Dice up the eggplant finely or mash it a bit.
I eagerly made this last night. When I asked my husband, who is always so easy to please, whether this recipe was a keeper or tosser, he said it was a “once in a lifetime” recipe. This morning, I re-read the recipe and think I know where the problem might be. The recipe calls for crumbled pita chips or crackers. All I had was a gluten-free artisan bread, so I cut it into cubes. I put the cubes into the salad. Were they intended to be the “carrier” of the salad? The picture shows the salad being used as a dip. Please clarify. Thanks…
Either or! If eaten as a salad, I crumble the pita chips in there, similar to a fattoush salad. But it can also be eaten as a dip. I haven’t put bread in the salad as that might absorb too much liquid and oil.