F&W Best New Chef 2014 Cara Stadler creates a fantastic vegetarian dish, topping miso-baked eggplants with a bright tomato-and-herb salad and a black vinegar dressing. Slideshow: More Eggplant Recipes
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1 teaspoon of water. Cook over low heat, swirling the pan, until the sugar melts and an amber caramel forms, 4 minutes. Whisk in the black vinegar. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Whisk in the oil and soy sauce.
In a bowl, mix the miso with the mirin. In a nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add 1 eggplant half, cut side down, and cook over moderate heat until deep-golden, 3 minutes. Transfer the eggplant cut side up to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and eggplants.
Spread the miso mixture on the cut sides of the eggplants. Roast for 15 minutes, until the eggplants are very tender. Transfer to a platter.
In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the 1/3 cup of dill, 1/4 cup of shiso, the scallions and two-thirds of the dressing; season with salt.
Spoon the salad over the warm eggplants and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Garnish with dill and shiso and serve.
The dressing can be refrigerated overnight.
Black vinegar is slightly sweet with a rich, malty flavor. It's typically made from fermented rice, wheat, barley and sorghum. It's available at Asian markets and from amazon.com.
The photo shows ingredients not in the recipe: cucumber? mango? melon?