Eggplant Salad in Parmesan Cups
- TOTAL TIME: 50 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4
Parmesan cheese cups not only hold the hearty eggplant salad here but also add a salty crunch. To make them, Nick Nairn melts small rounds of grated cheese on a baking sheet until golden, then drapes them over an inverted ceramic or glass bowl to cool and harden.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 ounces mesclun greens (4 cups)
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add half of the eggplant in a single layer, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir, cover and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Scrape the eggplant onto a large plate and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil and the remaining eggplant.
- Lightly oil a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese into a 6-inch round on each side of the baking sheet. Bake for about 3 minutes, until the Parmesan is melted and golden brown. Let the cheese rounds cool for about 30 seconds to firm up. With a spatula, carefully lift each round off the baking sheet and drape it over an inverted 4-inch-wide bowl. Let the cheese stand until cooled and crisp, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining Parmesan to make 2 more cheese cups.
- In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the mesclun, scallions, tomatoes and cooked eggplant with the dressing. Carefully spoon the salad into the Parmesan cups and serve at once.
A crisp white is the perfect foil to Nairn's rich eggplant and Parmesan salad; one particularly good choice is a Pinot Grigio from Friuli, a cool region in northeastern Italy.