(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've seen versions of this salad where the eggplants are baked, but I don't think that it really works well. Eggplants dry up when baked, losing all moisture, and that's why I try to avoid baking.
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, 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!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 basil leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
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 and almond slivers and drizzle the dressing on top.
- 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!