Grilled Aubergine and Baby Kale Sald with Spicy Sesame Dressing

This salad has a lot of soul, quite a dark soul actually or an old soul perhaps, packed full of smoke and spice it provides something different in summer.  Top the salad with pomegranate seeds to add a crunch and a burst of sweetness. I topped the buttermilk dressing with sumac. I love the unique zesty taste of sumac, which makes this salad refreshing on a warm summers evening.

Ingredients

  • baby eggplants or 2 large eggplants thinly sliced
  • 200g Puy Lentils
  • pomegranate seeds
  • baby kale or mixed salad
  • 1tbspn sherry vinegar
  • 1tbspn extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Buttermilk Dressing

  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 2tbspn tahini (or more if you like a very tahini tasting dressing)
  • 1/2 or 1 small garlic clove minced
  • (optional: Greek Yogurt)
  • salt
  • sumac (see note)
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced and zest

To Garnish

  • mint – very finely chopped
  • raddichio – I found red ones and liked the colour it added (see kitchen notes)
  • flat-leaf parsley – very finely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180c. Place the baby aubergines in a roasting tin and season with a little salt and pepper and drizzle liberally with oil. Roast for 30min or until soft to the touch.
  2. For normal size aubergine, heat a frying pan with a little oil until medium hot, add the sliced aubergine in small batches and fry until deep golden – drain and season
  3. Place the lentils in a saucepan and fill with water. The water level should just stick out above the lentils. Cook for 15-18minutes making sure you don’t overcook the lentils . Once ready drain the water.
  4. For the Dressing: place the buttermilk with the tahini in a food processor. Add the garlic and lemon juice and whizz. Test the seasoning and adjust according to taste. (see note). Place into a small bowl and scatter with sumac.
  5. Toss the oil, salt, pepper and vinegar through lentils while still warm – taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Just before serving toss through the aubergine.
  7. Top with the baby kale or small leaf salad.
  8. Scatter with pomegranate seeds and herbs.

Kitchen notes

+Raddichio is also called Italian Chicory. You can normally get the light yellow and white variety but sometimes the colourful red and white variety is also available. Raddichio will add a bitter component to a dish. It can be served raw but can also be quickly pan-fried. Classically it will be served with blue cheese and walnuts in a delicious salad.

++The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavour. Great on Chicken, Aubergine and I love it on flatbread.

+++For a thicker consistency in the Buttermilk Dressing add a little Greek Yogurt toward the end. 

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