s summer ends and the cool fall days begin, I like to mix the lingering sweet produce with deeper, heavier flavors. This salad, meant to be eaten warm or at room temperature, combines sweet eggplant with smoky pimenton, earthy cumin, and toasty walnuts. The tangy feta and lemon juice round things out perfectly.
Serves 2-3 as a side
2 medium eggplants (the larger globe varieties work best), cut into ½" inch cubes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey (
½ teaspoon pimenton, or smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ cup whole walnuts
1 medium clove garlic, pasted (see note)
½ to ¾ cup parsley (Persephone Farm)
½ cup crumbled feta (or other salty, tangy cheese)
finishing olive oil
fleur de sel
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the eggplant with a couple good pinches of sea salt. Let it sit for a bit to draw out the bitterness. If you have super-fresh farmers market eggplant, feel free to skip this step.
3. While the eggplant is sitting, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, pimenton, and cumin. Pat the eggplant cubes dry with a clean dish (or paper) towel, then toss them in the dressing until evenly coated. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven, stirring them occasionally, until soft and golden (about 35-40 minutes). When they're done, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool a bit.
4. While the eggplant is roasting, spread the walnuts out on another baking sheet. Toast them in the oven until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Check them frequently - you don't want to burn them. Remove them from the oven, let cool, then coarsely chop them. Set aside.
5. Finely chop the parsley, then mix will with the pasted garlic to create a persillade.
6. In a large bowl, toss the roasted eggplant with the chopped walnuts, feta, and persillade. Make sure everything is evenly distributed. Finish the salad with a good squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of finishing oil, and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Toss again and serve.
Note: To paste the garlic, first finely chop it, then mash it against the cutting board with the side of your knife blade until you have a smooth paste.