2 medium-sized eggplants (aubergines), or 1 large one, about 650–700 g (1 lb 7oz– 1 lb 9 oz) in total
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) ripe tomatoes
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 large handful of picked flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, plus extra to serve
juice of 1–2 lemons
Heat a barbecue to medium–high. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork, then place directly on the barbecue. If you have a barbecue
with a lid, close the lid, so the eggplant will absorb all the delicious smoky flavours. Cook for about 25–35 minutes, turning every 8–10 minutes, so the skin
burns and blisters all over, and the inner flesh collapses fully. When the eggplant is totally charred, allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes. Cut half into bite-sized pieces, place in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Finely dice the rest.
Heat the olive oil and vegetable oil in a frying pan until quite hot; small bubbles should form around a wooden spoon when you dip it in the oil. (The oil will spit a little when you add the juicy tomatoes, so if you want to avoid a mess in your kitchen, you could place the oiled pan on your barbecue and do this step
outside.) Add the diced tomato to the pan, along with the cumin, 1 cup parsley and a pinch of salt. Give a quick stir, being careful to avoid hot splatters. Cook
over high heat for 2–3 minutes, until the tomato softens. Remove from the heat and add to the fresh tomatoes in the bowl.
Using a serrated knife, cut the charred eggplant in half lengthways. Scoop out the flesh, avoiding any burnt bits of skin, as they will make the salad taste bitter. Tear the scooped-out eggplant flesh into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the tomato mixture. Add the lemon juice to taste and adjust the seasoning. Fold some extra parsley through. Serve immediately, on a big plate or in a shallow bowl.
Smoking the eggplants is easy and doesn’t require a lot of attention. You could also smoke some extra eggplant, cover it with olive oil and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days, to enjoy with other meals. Or use it in a simple smoky eggplant dip – just scoop out the flesh, drain in a colander for about 10 minutes, then add some crushed garlic, ground cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs of your liking, and perhaps a splash of tahini and/or yoghurt.
Cornersmith Salads and Pickles by Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99) Photography by Alan Benson