Eggplant, or aubergines, are not yet in season and I confess to breaking one of my personal rules of only purchasing produce that is in season locally. Maybe they were locally grown in a tunnel house but when I saw the glossy purple fruit at my local fruit store this week I couldn’t resist buying one.
I have just planted my eggplant seedlings in the garden and despite last year’s avalanche of eggplant that we harvested I am ready for the mega production of the summer vegetable garden and I am looking forward to it. At the beginning of last year I was convinced that I would be happy to never see another eggplant again. Needless to say we have planted fewer plants this year. Those super powered plants of last year were cut back and left in the garden, as with the capsicum, to see if they would re-emerge in Spring with a burst of new life. That didn’t eventuate. I ended up removing the plants as they turned into dead sticks! The capsicum on the other hand are just beginning to spring back to life and are sprouting new leaves. You can’t win them all…..
As always spring has days that are summery and warm and those that are damp and cool. The warm ones move me forward towards lighter summer meals and flavors. This dish was an experiment that went very right. It will certainly feature across our summer meals and is simple to prepare when entertaining. The fresh flavor of mint and lemon combined with the tropical coconut flavor make this dish as gloriously tasty as it is simple.
I read many cook books and magazines, in fact I would say that it is akin to a hobby. I love to flick through the pages of beautifully presented food and read recipes for ideas about food combinations. I have no idea what I was reading and where this one cam from but the blackboard in my office had two words scrawled on it recently – eggplant and halloumi. That was the inspiration for this recipe and I thank who ever, or which ever publication I saw it in as it is truly a glorious combination.
If halloumi is haloumi to you I do apologise. Please don’t be annoyed by the spelling. I pondered which spelling to use and ended up going with the one that was written on the package of the cheese I purchased.
This is my recipe for eggplant halloumi salad:
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 eggplant (aubergine) sliced into even sized rounds of approximately 1 cm
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts - toasted
- 1 shallot finely sliced into rounds
- halloumi cheese - finely grated
- handful of fresh mint leaves
- handful of fresh parsley leaves
- juice of 1 lemon
- Warm a pan and add some of the coconut oil
- Add slices of the eggplant to cook each side until golden in color and softened. Turn slices when they are browned, remove and repeat until all of the eggplant slices are cooked
- To another pan add the pine nuts to dry roast - eg to heat for a few minutes over medium heat until the just begin to change color. Remove from the heat and set aside
- To the pan that was used to roast the pine nuts, add a little coconut oil and the slice shallots and fry until golden brown and crisp. Remove and set aside
- As each set of eggplant pieces are ready place them in a circle or a stack on a serving plate
- Shave some halloumi cheese over the top of each layer, sprinkle some fresh herbs and the pine nuts - add the next layer repeating these steps
- When all of the eggplant slices have been cooked and are stacked on the serving plate, topped with more finely grated halloumi, herbs and pine nuts and top with the shallots.
- Add the lemon juice over the stack and serve warm or at room temperature.
My yearning for summer and all that is brings is getting stronger as the days pass and as I plan and plant my vegetable garden with the things that we will be eating from Christmas and into the new year.
Are you eagerly anticipating summer? Tell me you favorite summer produce item.
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