Susan Feniger Street Food and Sour Eggplant

Towards the end of summer, Eggplant tends to take the brunt of my plant-based exhaustion. If I catch it, it will languish in the sharper drawer until it is a little too shrunken to be eaten somehow, not grilled and mashed. When I saw a new type of eggplant recipe in Susan Feniger’s street food, I jumped on it.

Feniger’s recipe is an interpretation of the Eastern European eggplant salad, made with steamed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar and a generous scoop of brown sugar. The Eggplant is salted and then covered with a persil Pesto and shiny shallot before being fried in a lot of oil. After being reduced to a silky and rich version of its former self, the Eggplant simmers quickly with tomatoes, sugar and vinegar for 10 minutes. It may not be the eggplant dish imaginable, but the final salad is certainly a unique interpretation of Eggplant.

Why I chose this recipe: a new interpretation of eggplant is always welcome in my home.

What worked: Salting, sautéing and braising the eggplants gives a supple and silky texture, perfect for absorbing the tasty mixture of tomatoes and vinegar. The last dish tastes heat up, hot and fresh and is a versatile summer dish.

What not: the Pesto coating of the Eggplant stuck firmly to the pan, even if the suggested two tablespoons of oil were used. Quickly switching to a non-stick frying pan solved the problem.

Suggested optimizations: in addition to changing the pan, I would probably turn the sugar over a little next time (1/3 cup instead of 1/2). I would also like to try serving the salad with watercress, goat cheese and sourdough bread, as Feniger suggests in the top note.

Reprinted with the kind permission of Susan Feniger’s street Food by Susan Feniger. Copyright 2012. edited by Clarkston Potter. Available wherever the books are sold. All rights reserved.

Cut off both ends of each Eggplant, discard and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle both sides with the 3 tablespoons of salt. Set aside for 20 minutes for the salt to draw a little water from the Eggplant. Then dry the Eggplant with a kitchen towel.

Place the olive oil, garlic, green onions, persil, Cayenne pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a food processor and puree until a smooth paste forms (it resembles Pesto). Spread the eggplant slices generously on both sides.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Add enough eggplant slices to cover the bottom of the pan and cook until browned and cooked through on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the Eggplant to a dish or plate. Repeat this process with the remaining eggplant slices, adding 2 tablespoons of oil for each batch. Cut the cooked Eggplant into 1-inch wide strips.

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