Eggplant with Mint

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or 1 tablespoon, dried
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh chili, finely chopped
salt to taste
1/4 cup black olives (about 8)
1 small tomato, cut in wedges

Brush eggplant lightly with vegetable oil Using a fork, pierce the skin lightly at 1-inch intervals. Place on an oven pan and bake for 1 hour.

Meanwhile prepare the dressing; In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mint, garlic and chili (with seeds, if desired); mix well and set aside.

Transfer eggplant to a work surface. Cut off 1 inch at the stem end and discard (this part never quite cooks through). Peel the eggplant by picking at an edge from the cut end, then pulling upward. The skin should come off easily in strips.

Cut the eggplant lengthwise and place each half with the interior facing you. With a spoon scoop out the tongues of seed-pods, leaving as much of the flesh as possible. To remove the additional seed-pods hiding inside, cut each piece of eggplant in half and repeat the deseeding procedure. Once deseeded, cut the eggplant flesh into strips 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. Transfer the strips to a serving bowl.

Whisk the reserved dressing and add salt to taste. Add to the eggplant. Fold gently to dress all the pieces, then garnish with tomato wedges and black olives. Serve right away, or let wait covered and unrefrigerated for up to 2 hours.



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