Eggplant Salad (version XVIII)

2 medium eggplants (total 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
2 or 3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 to 3/4 cup Tahini sauce (recipe below), or 2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
3 large garlic cloves, minced
pinch of cayenne (optional)

Prick eggplants a few times with fork. Grill above medium-hot coals for about 1 hour; broil for about 40 minutes, turning often; or bake at 400 F for about 1 hour. When done, eggplant’s flesh should be tender and eggplant should look collapsed. Remove eggplant peel, cut off stem, and drain off any liquid from inside eggplant. Chop flesh fine with a knife.

Transfer eggplant to a bowl. Add garlic and mix well. Stir in mayonnaise, tahini sauce, or olive oil. If adding mayonnaise or oil, add lemon juice to taste. (There is already lemon juice in the tahini sauce, so probably no more will be needed.) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper; season generously. (Salad can be kept, covered, 2 days in refrigerator.)

To serve, spread on a plate and sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings

Tahini Sauce
In a medium bowl, stir tahini to blend in its oil. Stir in 1/2 cup water. Add cumin, salt, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne. If sauce is too thick, gradually stir in more water. Taste, and add more salt or lemon juice if desired. (Tahini thickens on standing, and may need a little water mixed in before serving.)

Makes about 1 cup; about 6 to 8 servings

From Faye Levy’s wonderful book International Vegetable Cookbook

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