Eggplant Salad with Pita Crisps

1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized zucchini, scrubbed and chopped
1 large sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon tahini
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt (8 ounces)
2 plum tomatoes, skinned and cubed
8 red or green leaf lettuce leaves
Pita crisps
2 pita pockets, each separated into 2 rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Drain for 30 minutes to remove the bitter juice. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the eggplant, zucchini, onion, and garlic. Sauté until the ingredients are tender and begin to brown (12 to 15 minutes). Frequent stirring should prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan. However, add a bit more oil if necessary.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir the coriander and tahini into the sautéed vegetables. When cool, add the yogurt, then transfer to a covered container. Refrigerate until very cold (at least 3 hours).

While the eggplant mixture is chilling, prepare the pita crisps. Cut the pita bread into 1-inch pieces and place on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the oil with the cumin and pepper. Brush both sides of the bread with the oil mixture and bake in a 350ºF oven until crisp (8 to 10 minutes).

Place the tomato cubes on paper towels to absorb moisture.

Just before serving, stir 1 cup of the pita crisps and the drained tomatoes into the eggplant mixture.

Line a large shallow plate with the lettuce leaves and heap the eggplant salad in the center. Serve with a napkin-lined basket of the remaining pita crisps.

Yield: 4 servings

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