This is a very loose template for one of my favorite salads. Because eggplant, canned beans, and fresh tomatoes are very cheap here, and because I can easily make it while I’m doing other things in the kitchen, it’s a real go-to recipe template.
As always, ingredient quantities are flexible, though I give approximations for you, as are the kinds of herbs (or even other vegetables) that can go into it. I think its destiny is to be served on top of baby spinach, but that’s not something I can get my hands on here–and if I did, it would cost me my firstborn–so any kind of lettuce will do.
To make it, you’ll need:
- 1-2 eggplants (enough to cover the surface of a baking sheet when cubed in 1-inch pieces; for me, that usually means 2-3 small eggplants or 1 1/2 larger eggplant. Trini eggplants tend to be small.)
- 4-5 tomatoes (more or less to taste)
- 1 can of great white northern or canellini beans (you can even use chickpeas)
- 1 small garlic clove, minced (optional–I always use it, but I have no qualms about having dragon breath for the sake of tasty food)
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Lime or lemon (I use small limes, which grow everywhere here; usually two will do, but adjust to season)
- Herbs: oregano, basil, or parsley, or mix thereof, chopped or minced (I prefer sticking to just one herb at a time for this salad, but it’s totally up to you).
- Salt/pepper/adobo to taste
Once you’ve put on your apron, do like so:
Set the oven to 400 or so (my oven is temperamental and heats unevenly, but 400 should be about right). Very lightly oil a cookie sheet/baking sheet. Chop the eggplant into one-inchish cubes, peeling it first if you prefer (I don’t because eggplant skin here is very tender). Spread the eggplant evenly on the baking sheet and stick it in the oven, where it’ll need about 30 minutes or so.
While the eggplant roasts, chop the tomatoes (size is up to you) and rinse the beans thoroughly. In a large mixing bowl, add the juice of the limes or lemons, the zest of this (zest of entire lime if small, or of half if large), carefully avoiding grating into the pithy white layer (ew, bitter). Add the tomatoes and beans to the bowl, mix, then add your vinegar, oil, herbs, and salt/pepper/adobo to taste.
When the eggplant is done (softened and roasty-looking), remove from the oven and add to the rest of the salad, tossing well and adjusting any seasonings or oil/vinegar. I find that I need very little olive oil in this, as the eggplant provides a rich texture and the tomatoes add dressing-like juices to the whole thing.
When you are ready to eat, grab your lettuce or greens and pile the eggplant-bean-tomato salad on top, mix it up, and eat.
I get 2-3 lunch servings from this, and it keeps well for days (I’ve eaten this so many days after making it I’d be ashamed to specify, but three or four days sounds right for standard fridge life).