When summer is in full swing and there are mounds and mounds of beautiful purple eggplants available, here’s a wonderfully tasty and refreshing salad you can make with them. And since the eggplant is poached rather than fried, it is a light and healthful dish. The flavors and textures of this vegetable trio—eggplant, onion, and potato—are quite harmonious. However, if you are really watching the starches, you can cut the volume of potatoes in half, or omit them altogether, and double the amount of eggplant.
- 2 small firm eggplants (about 1 pound total)
- 1 pound small red onions
- 1 pound russet potatoes
- 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon packed fresh mint leaves, shredded
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
You will need a wide, shallow saucepan or high-sided sauté pan, 4-quart capacity, for poaching the eggplant and onions; a large bowl for mixing and serving the salad.
Trim the ends from the eggplants, and shave off some lengthwise strips of the skin with a vegetable peeler, leaving some strips on, creating a striped appearance. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 6 or more long wedges, about 1 inch thick. Peel the red onions, and slice them lengthwise into quarter-round wedges, not cutting at the root; you want the wedges attached. To poach the eggplants and onions: Put 1½ cups of the vinegar and 2 quarts cold water in the shallow saucepan, and heat to a boil. Drop in the eggplant wedges and the split-open onions, cover the pan, and return to a boil. Set the cover ajar, and adjust the heat to maintain a steady gentle boil. Cook about 30 minutes, occasionally tumbling the vegetables over and moving them to poach evenly, until quite soft and tender.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in another pot, with water to cover them by about 2 inches, and cook just until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork or sharp knife blade (don’t let them get mushy). Drain the potatoes, and let them cool briefly. Peel off the skins, and cut them in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ½-inch- thick half-rounds. Put the potato pieces in the salad bowl, and cover to keep them warm while you finish the eggplant and onions. When the eggplant and onions are fully cooked, gently lift them out of the poaching liquid with a spider or strainer, and lay them out on a tray or baking sheet in one layer.
While the eggplant is still warm, scoop out the central clumps of seeds from the wedges, then cut them crosswise into 2-inch chunks. Separate the onion wedges, and then the layers. Put all the vegetable pieces—they should still be warm to the touch—in the bowl with the potatoes.
To dress the salad: Drizzle the olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar over the salad, sprinkle the salt on it, scatter in the shredded mint, and crumble the dried oregano over all. Gently toss the vegetables pieces to coat them all with dressing without breaking them apart. Serve immediately.