Eggplant Salad (version XXIII)
1 eggplant (about 1 pound)
Leave the skin on the eggplant, but trim off and discard the stem and navel
salt for sprinkling on eggplant, plus 1/2 teaspoon
extra-virgin olive oil for oiling baking sheet, plus 2 teaspoons
2 large cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise into slivers
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon crumbled dry mint or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
pinch of red pepper flakes or to taste
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Make slashes about 1/2 inch deep in their flesh on the cuts sides and sprinkle with salt. Place the halves, cut sides down, in a colander. Place the colander in the sink or over a dish and let stand so the bitter liquid drains out of the seeds, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 400º. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and oil it lightly.
Rinse the eggplant under cold water and pat thoroughly dry with a clean kitchen towel. Slip the garlic slivers into the slashes in the eggplant. Place the eggplant halves cut sides down on the foil-lined sheet. Cover loosely with more foil and bake until completely tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.
Remove eggplant from the oven and let cool somewhat until it can be handled then cut into dices no larger than approximately 1 inch (do not remove the skin). The garlic will have softened and sweetened during the cooking; do not remove it. Place in a serving bowl. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt, mint and the pepper flakes and toss well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature.
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