Juicy watermelon, with blistered eggplant - a must try combination of the summer.
Sweet, Salty, Earthy, Creamy, and Refreshing
An easy summer salad with minimal preparation, but will be sure to stand out on the table. This salad was first introduced to me working in the Bay Area at Penrose, a farm to table style, Middle Eastern restaurant. The first time I saw it on my menu, I didn't know what to think, I had never heard of eating the two together. Eggplant and watermelon were so different, but when I had a bite of the dish, I got it. It just made since, the sweet juicy watermelon and the creamy robust eggplant, the two were made for eachother.
1 Yellow Crimson watermelon
1 Eggplant (Globe, Fairy Tale, or Listada de Gandia eggplant)
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and torn
Ricotta Salata, grated for garnish
6-8 Mint leaves, torn
1 TBSP Sherry vinegar
1 TBSP Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425℉
Stripe eggplant with a peeler, then cut into large wedges, season with salt and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Strain off liquid and squeeze eggplant with a kitchen towel. Then toss with avocado oil, and arrange flesh side down on a parchment lined sheet tray. Leave 1 inch between pieces of eggplant, overcrowding the pan will cause the eggplant to steam instead of roast.
Bake the eggplant at 425 ℉ for 15 minutes, then flip each piece of eggplant and cook for an additional 15 minutes. The eggplant should have a golden brown color with some black spots. The flesh will develop a thick skin, and the inside flesh will become nice and creamy. (Cooking time may vary based on the oven, and size of eggplant, reference the picture above and adjust cooking times as necessary).
Peel watermelon and cut into wedges. A variety of shapes and sizes is a fun way to add depth and height to a plate.
Arrange watermelon and cooked eggplant on a plate or serving platter. Whisk sherry vinegar and olive together and spoon over the eggplant. It is okay if you have extra liquid. The acidity of the sherry vinegar helps bring out the flavors of the eggplant, but could be left out if you don't have any on hand.
Add a handful of torn olives at random to the plate, then sprinkle the torn mint over the top. Using a box grater, grate the ricotta salata over the top of the plate, allowing the cheese to fall where it wants. (If you hold the grater 6 inches or more above the plate, the cheese will evenly distribute itself over the plate). The more irregular the ingredients are the more everything ties together.
Top salt the plate with maldon sea salt flakes, and serve at room temperature.