Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fried Eggplant Salad w/ Garlic Caper Vinaigrette

   Eggplants are just coming into season.  If you frequent farmers' markets, in a few weeks you'll have quite the variety to choose from.  I made this salad with the best eggplant I could find as the wonderfully upscale Food  Lion (............) near me.  I had never worked with eggplant before, which means I had never purchased one.  Even though I knew the criteria of choosing: firm, not too large, heavy for its size; I was skeptical of my selection, but Louis really wanted to try this salad.  (I bought an extra box pasta and some tomatoes as a quick backup, just in case.)  Before I even cut into it I knew there would be seeds and it would be slightly spongy.  I was right, but went on through with it.  Despite it's dubious produce origins and seemingly lackluster interior, it was delicious.  It was not the dreadfully bitter, mushy vegetable I had prepared myself for.  (Still try to find the best eggplant possible.  I lucked out, but try not to buy one from Walmart or Food Lion.  I just didn't have any other choice... but I am moving soon! Yay Publix!)

Fried Eggplant Salad
1 head romaine, chopped
Goat cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges
1/2 of a large eggplant or 1 small eggplant
~1/2 C flour
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp sugar (If you are nervous about the eggplant being bitter)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C season bread crumbs
oil, for frying
Garlic Caper Vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp capers
~1 tsp caper brine
2 tsp white wine vinegar (up to 1 Tbsp depending on personal taste)
salt and pepper

   For Vinaigrette:  Heat oil and garlic together in a small pot over med-low heat for about 5 minutes.  When garlic just begins to sizzle a little, remove from heat.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Salt and pepper to taste.
   Cut eggplant into thick slices, about 1 inch thick.  (4-6 slices)
   Combine flour, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Coat eggplant slices in flour, then egg, and then coat with bread crumbs.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
   Heat about 1/4-1/2 inch of oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Fry eggplant for 3-4 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels over a cooling rack.
   Place eggplant alongside lettuce.  Drizzle vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle with cheese.  Add lemon wedges on the side.
   Serves 2

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