Rihan Salad
(Eggplant & Basil Salad)

The reason why I call this salad a Rihan salad is because the basil (aka rihan) is the star in this recipe. This salad isn't as healthy as green salads because the base of it is fried eggplants! I prefer to fry the eggplants, but you can definitely bake them. 

Now, I know that eggplant is not a very popular vegetable! You either love it or hate it. But trust me when I say this, this salad will change your mind about eggplants. I can say this because I wasn't always a fan until I tried this salad at a local restaurant and I was instantly hooked! Fried eggplants, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, almonds and BASIL!!! Oh my, I can't even begin to describe the flavors of this dish. It's fresh. It's flavorful. And, it's definitely going to become a favorite! 

Rihan Salad 

Servings: 8

Prep Time: 20 minutes 

Cook Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: 

2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1" cubes 

3 roma tomatoes, diced 

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, sliced 

8-10 basil leaves, julienned 

2 tablespoons slivered almonds 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

Dressing: 

15 basil leaves 

1/4 cup lemon juice 

1/4 cup olive oil 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

Directions: 

1) Place eggplants in a sieve over a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the eggplants. Let sit for 30 minutes. 

2) In the meantime, make the salad dressing. In a small food processor, or blender, combine basil leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Pulse until combined. Set aside. 

3) In a frying pan, add cooking oil - about 1/2 to 1 inch of oil. Heat on medium-high heat to 350*F. 

4) Deep fry the eggplants until golden brown. Once the eggplants are fully cooked, remove from heat and drain excess oil. Let cool completely. 

5) In your serving dish, layer eggplants, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, basil leaves, and almond slivers and drizzle the dressing on top. 

Notes: 

- Eggplants have a lot of water. When frying them, it's best to drain the excess water and salt helps with that! That's why I cut them into cubes and let them drain for 30 minutes. 

- Always taste your feta cheese first. I don't like to add too much salt to this recipe because feta cheese is already salty and the eggplants are also salted before frying. You don't want to go overboard with salt! 

- If you don't want to fry the eggplants, you can bake them at 400*F for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through.