Summer is in full swing and my meals like the farmers market are bursting with tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and greens galore. The buttery little Asian eggplants have arrived finally and this year, I pounced on them immediately. I have been envisaging them golden and roasted until melting inside, then generously drizzled with a bright and tangy miso dressing. Sticking with that plan, I turned the idea into a meal by cooking some lentils and adding lots of herbs and cherry tomatoes. The end result was a lovely, refreshing and light dish – perfect for sultry evenings.
This salad does take more time to put together that the one I posted last week, but the extra steps of turning on the oven to roast the eggplant and getting out the blender to make the dressing do take it to the next level. It works well as a starter or part of a selection of dishes for a summer dinner party or picnic. You can also roast extra eggplant to eat on sandwiches, which would be delicious with a smear of the tangy miso dressing. And, over the past couple of days I’ve also discovered that the dressing, which thickens up to be sauce-like, is also great with steamed broccoli and stirred into brown rice with scallions. Yum!
Roasted eggplant salad with herbs, lentils and tomatoes and tangy miso dressing.
For this salad I used a small brown lentil that is the size of a French lentil. If you can’t find small brown lentils, substitute French or Beluga lentils.
Serves 4 as a starter/2 as a main course
1 pound Asian eggplant, halved lengthways
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked lentils, see below
½ cup parsley leaves
¼ cup torn basil leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Toasted black sesame seeds to garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut any long pieces of eggplant in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add eggplant, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss to combine and arrange eggplant cut side down. Roast 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and soft inside. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Place lentils in a wide bowl or platter and add a pinch of salt, stir and spread out a little. Top with eggplant, herbs, tomatoes and scallions. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with extra dressing on the side.
Tangy miso dressing
If you’re making this dressing right before using it, it will be the perfect consistency for drizzling, if not add a little water to thin it out. I made this using a regular domestic blender, if you are using a vitamix you will need to double the recipe to get the blender to run. This recipe makes more than you will need for this salad but it keeps well for days.
Makes ¾ cup
2 tablespoons white miso
1 ½ tablespoons raw cashew butter
3 tablespoons filtered water, plus more to thin out
2 tablespoons naturally fermented brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon naturally fermented mirin
½ clove garlic
1-inch piece scallion, roughly chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in an upright blender, except for oil, and blend until smooth. Add oil and blend again until thick and creamy. Use immediately or store in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To cook lentils
You will end up with more than you need to this salad. Store any left over lentils in the fridge for up to 4 days.
1 cup brown lentils, soaked overnight in 3 cups filtered water
Drain and rinse lentils. Place in a small to medium pot, cover with about an inch of filtered water and add kombu. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are soft inside but not falling apart. Remove from heat, drain well and set aside to cool.
Print recipe here.