Calling all eggplant lovers! (And if you are not you may become one once you make this salad!)
I say this only because I myself used to not be a fan of this odd purple vegetable, I mean don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it, it was just never my go to vegetable when I was looking to make a meal. The only time I enjoyed eggplant was when it was fried and covered in marinara sauce, but as we all know, All Things Fried = No Good for the Thighs and so I was determined to come up with a healthy but delicious recipe so that I could say to myself, “Eggplant, I love you and we will work together again soon!”
Today’s salad did just that. It’s packed with whole grains, roasted eggplant, fresh herbs, golden raisins, feta cheese and finished off with a honey cumin vinaigrette. All the flavor profiles are here!
So, my first thought was to roast the eggplant, because even mediocre vegetables come alive when they are roasted. I don’t mean that they become little veggie zombies walking around in my oven, but it just adds awesome flavor to any ingredient. Or, it could also be that I am a kid from the 90’s when everything seemed to be boiled so when the new method became roasting, I was hooked.
Thru my research I discovered that eggplant and cumin are basically a match made in heaven so I just took out a sheet pan, tossed the eggplant and shallots together with a little avocado oil, cumin and salt and pepper. Delicious! I mean you could stop now, get out a spoon and go to town but keep going, I promise it gets better!
Your welcome to use olive oil but I prefer to use avocado oil because it has a much higher smoke point than olive and tends to not break down during the roasting process. So throughout my blog you will probably see me use avocado oil for most of my high heat cooking.
Once you have the eggplant roasted the salad comes together pretty quickly. I used farro for my grain just because I wanted more of that chewy texture but you could use any leftover grain you had on hand. Add the fresh herbs, feta and the vinaigrette and you’re done!
Simple as that!
Additionally, this would be a great salad to have for leftovers, especially if you wanted to pack it in your lunch or have it for dinner the next day. It keeps really well and I believe it almost tastes better the next day as the farro has had more time to soak up the flavors!
Roasted Eggplant Farro Salad
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 medium shallot, sliced
3 tablespoons of avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons cumin
Kosher salt and pepper
2 cups cooked farro, or other ancient grain
¾ cup of golden raisins
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Handful of mint and basil, torn
8 ounces feta, small cubes
CUMIN HONEY VINAIGRETTE
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
½ teaspoon cumin
Half of a lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook the farro according to package directions and then add the cooked farro to a serving bowl to cool.
On a rimmed baking sheet combine eggplant, shallots, avocado oil, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss everything together to get an even coating on the eggplant. *The eggplant will seem dry like it is soaking up all the oil and you will feel compelled to add more but it is plenty, I promise! Arrange everything in an even layer. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking until eggplant and shallots are golden brown.
To assemble: Add the eggplant and shallots, golden raisins, fresh herbs, feta to the cooled farro. Toss it altogether with the honey cumin vinaigrette (instructions follow).
Honey Cumin Vinaigrette
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or glass jar. Whisk well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Serves about 4.