Oriental Eggplant Salad (version II)

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12 small (2 pounds) japanese or chinese eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
1/2 medium sized sweet red pepper, cut lengthwise into matchstick strips
1 clove garlic, sliced
6 green onions, cut into 3-inch lengths and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

On a large baking sheet lightly sprayed with olive oil non-stick cooking spray, scatter eggplant slices in an even layer. Spray eggplant with cooking spray until well coated. Bake 20-25 minutes or until browned and soft.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add sweet red pepper and garlic, sauté until pepper softens--2-3 minutes. Add green onions and sauté 1 minute. Add soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, and red pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove form heat and set aside.

To serve, transfer eggplant to large serving bowl and top with sweet pepper mixture. Toss until well mixed and let stand until cool or at room temperature--about 1 hour. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

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