Spicy Eggplant Salad with Tomato Crisps

2 large firm eggplants
2 beef tomatoes, red but still firm
assorted salad leaves and herbs, such as rocket, lollo rosso, basil, parsley, all washed and dried
1 small piece parmesan cheese
2 dried red chillies
2 star anise
peel of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon garlic, dried
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 part olive oil
2 parts grapeseed or groundnut oil
1 part balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar and pepper
grated parmesan

Dry all the spices together in a hot cupboard or low oven, then grind them finely in a coffee or spice grinder. You can use ground spices if you prefer but the flavour will not be the same. Slice the tomatoes into rounds of about 1/8 inch thick and put them on to grease proof paper. Sprinkle with a little salt and sugar and place them in a hot cupboard or low oven to dry out. Once they are dry enough to pick up, turn them over to allow the other side to dry.

Using a potato peeler, peel down the side of the parmesan to produce long shavings. Any cheese that is left over can be grated and used for the dressing.

Slice the eggplants 1/2 inch thick, put on a tray and season with salt and the spice mix. Allow to stand for 30-40 minutes, then rinse and squeeze any excess water out of them and sprinkle with olive oil and more spice mix.
Fry the slices gently in a hot pan until they are golden brown and tender on both sides.

Make the dressing, then build up all the elements of the salad on plates and sprinkle the dressing over the top.

Serves 4.

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