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
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.
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