Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Lighter meal project continued – Mediterranean eggplant salad.

Forgive my regression to fatty, comfort food last week, it has been and still is a very long, cold winter.  Now I am back on track for my lighter meal’s project. 
For me, the toughest part of dieting does not come from depravation, but from boredom.  Another day, another salad… yes, you can make a low-calorie salad a million ways, but it is still just another salad.  I want something a little more exciting, something requiring a fork and a knife to navigate.  Something light and fresh, yet delicious and something which just ultimately reminds me of summer, which I miss dearly.  And, yes, something that does not look like your typical salad.
This recipe is inspired by the book  “Around my kitchen table” by Dorie Greenspan.  It makes a wonderful light lunch, a great dinner side dish and an even better late-night snack.  Of course it will be a thousand times more delicious in the summer when all the local fresh produce is in season, but I could not wait this long.
You can switch up the ingredients.  I used feta as it is one of the lighter cheeses packing a lot of flavor, but cubed fresh mozzarella would work well also.

Mediterranean eggplant salad.  -  240 calories per serving
( makes 4 servings, the recipe is easily multiplied.)
1 Large firm Eggplant  
2 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil  
Salt and Pepper
½ pint of cherry or grape tomatoes quartered lengthwise  
¼ of red onion finely diced  
1 leafy celery stalk finely diced  
½ red or yellow bell pepper finely chopped  
5 large calamata olives diced  
1 tbs of capers, drained and roughly chopped  
Parsley or basil chopped  
2 tbs of any low slated crumbled feta  
1 English cucumber julienned.  
Pre-heat the oven to 375F.  Peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler in horizontal stripes, making sure to leave some of the skin intact.  Cut into 1inch thick rounds.  You will now have about 4 equal size rounds; you can save the smaller end pieces for some other use.  Brush the eggplant with 1 tbs of olive oil on both sides, season with salt and pepper.  Bake in the oven for approximately 40 min, turning once, until the eggplant is golden brown and soft but not mushy.

Prepare the salsa.  Combine tomatoes, onions, pepper, celery, olives, capers and parsley.  Stir gently and let sit while the eggplant bakes. 

While the eggplant cools, add the crumbled feta.  Top the baked eggplant with the tomato salsa, julienned cucumber and lightly drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top.  Season with salt and fresh pepper.

Now that’s a salad!

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