I made a few changes based on my preferences and the ingredients that are available here, but this recipe is definitely a keeper! The smokiness from the eggplant is what makes this salad, but the citrus and all the fresh vegetables keep it light and perfect for summer. I added some cubes of tofu that I browned in a nonstick pan to make a light lunch, but grilled chicken breast would work well for that too.
(adapted from Food and Wine)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot red chili pepper, minced
Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.
2-3 Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
2 carrots, julienned
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber (cut in half lengthwise, scrape out the soft middle part and slice thinly)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1-2 cubs cubed cooked tofu or chicken (optional)
Put the eggplants on a grill or right on a gas burner and cook until all the skin is charred and the eggplants are very soft.
Set aside to cool, then scrape off all the charred skin and discard.
Cut into long, thin strips, and discard the seeds. Cut the strips into 1/2″ lengths, and mix with the dressing. Toss with the tofu or chicken, if using
Toss all remaining vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, and cilantro) together in a serving bowl, then top with the dressing mixture.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.