Meatless Monday: Persian Eggplant and Herb Salad with Caramelized Onions

Meatless Monday: Persian Eggplant and Herb Salad with Caramelized Onions

Tired of blah, lettuce-based salads? Mix up your Meatless Monday menu with this flavourful eggplant salad that boasts fresh basil, parsley, and mint.

It’s easy for meatless eaters to fall into the habit of relying on tried-and-true vegetarian meals: lettuce-based salads, veggie burgers, rice stir-fries, and anything with tofu.

If your meatless meals are feeling a little repetitive, though, why not mix things up by taking inspiration from international cuisine? Making the traditional dishes of other cultures is a great way to try out new spices, flavours, and taste combinations. Plus, many countries around the world are big on vegetarian fare. Indian cuisine, for example, is often meatless due to popular religious beliefs that advocate nonviolence toward animals.

Ready to take your taste buds to another country? Try the following eggplant salad inspired by Persian cuisine. Consider serving on chunks of sangak bread (a traditional Persian sourdough flatbread) with spoonfuls of yogurt for a traditional presentation.

Persian Eggplant and Herb Salad with Caramelized Onions
From Irene McGuinness’s “Persian Cuisine”

2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/4 lb (550 g) each
Juice of 1 large lemon
3 Tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large onions, sliced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 firm red tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped fresh walnuts
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sprig of mint

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).

Place eggplants directly on oven rack and roast slowly until outer skin begins to collapse and they’re uniformly soft on all sides, about 45 to 50 minutes. Turn a couple of times with tongs for even roasting. When they’re sagging and soft, you’ll know they’re ready. Remove very carefully from oven and wait until cool enough to handle. Slit in half and scoop out the insides and mash in bowl. Stir in lemon juice and set aside to cool to room temperature.

While eggplant is baking, heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil in large, deep frying pan. Add onions and sauté over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. They should be soft and begin to turn a lovely golden colour. Sprinkle with sugar and turmeric and sauté, stirring often, for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Remove, set aside and cool.

When onions have cooled, chop half of them and add to cooled eggplant along with remaining ingredients except for 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil and sprig of mint. Gently fold together. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you wish. Transfer to serving bowl.

Spoon remaining caramelized onion on top and garnish with sprig of mint. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil just before serving. Serve with side dish of thick plain yogurt and sangak bread.

Serves 8.

Each serving contains: 89 calories; 4 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 18 g total carbohydrates (10 g sugars, 7 g fibre); 299 mg sodium

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