Israeli eggplant salad is made by grilling or broiling a whole eggplant and mixing the delicious, gooey inside with seasoned tahini. Served at the opening of a meal with plenty of pita for dipping, Israeli-style eggplant salad is simple to make but utterly good.Yum
An essential element among the spate of wonderful salads and small bites that open many an Israeli meal, eggplant salad is made with smokey eggplant and plenty of seasoned tahini. It's the kind of thing you'll also find on an Israeli dinner table, store bought in little tubs or at the deli counter. In short, a fixture of Israeli casual restaurant and home dining. It's well worth making yourself, because it's easy and so, so good homemade. If you have prepared tahini on hand, it's what we call in Hebrew tzechok mi-avodah—a laugh of a job.
Broiling the eggplant
The customary way of getting the eggplant nice and cooked is on an open flame, which makes it wonderfully smokey. If you're grilling out, it's easy enough to toss an eggplant on the fire and add this salad to your picnic. If you don't want to fire up the grill for eggplant salad, though, broiling an eggplant in your home oven works amazingly well. You can leave the eggplant whole and turn it halfway through, or do it the lazy (i.e., easier) way and slice you eggplant in half lengthwise before broiling. Then, place it cut side down on a baking sheet. My well-seasoned, unglazed ceramic sheet pan is completely non-stick so it needs no oiling. If yours isn't, line it with parchment. You want the eggplant to be well-wrinkled, charred in spots, and hollow when you poke it before you take it out, about 7 to 10 minutes at a medium broil. The cut also makes it super easy to handle the eggplant after broiling, because the skin will come right off the eggplant (like in the photo above right).
Making the salad
If you don't have prepared tahini ready, you can mix it while the eggplant's broiling. I have a walk-through of how to prepare tahini here, but essentially, you're just mixing raw tahini with lemon juice, water, and salt, plus garlic if you like (recommended for this salad).
Once the broiled egggplant has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to shred the flesh (it should almost shred itself). Mix in the tahini and a glug of olive oil, and your salad is ready. It's often served drizzled with more olive oil on top, plus fresh parsley and maybe a smattering of paprika.
Israeli Eggplant Salad (parve)
- 1 large eggplant
- ¼ cup raw tahini
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- fresh parsely, minced, for garnish - optional
- Using tongs, place the whole eggplant on a hot grill and roast, turning often, until softened and charred on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Oven broiling method:
- Place the whole eggplant in a baking pan. Alternatively, slice the eggplant lengthwise and place it cut side down in a lined pan.
- Place under the broiler set to medium broil (550°F / 290°C) until softened, collapsing, and charred in spots, 7-10 minutes, turning once if roasting whole.
Prepare the tahini:
- Season the raw tahini with salt and garlic powder. Whisk in the lemon juice. The tahini should become very thick with whisking.
- Pour in the water and continue to whisk. The tahini will thin out, thicken again, then become well integrated. Whisk in the olive oil.
Assemble the salad:
- When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, which is effortlessly pull off. Place in a small bowl and shred the eggplant using two forks, leaving some texture to the eggplant.
- Stir in the prepare tahini (you should have about ½ cup). Serve topped with olive oil and fresh minced parsely.