It’s spring in Australia which means the weather is warming up and people are dusting off their BBQs (if they were ever out of use). Eggplants are in season so what better than a BBQ eggplant and french onion salad to accompany your favourite BBQ cut of meat or fish.
Cooked eggplant is a good source of fibre along with a host of other vitamins and minerals. Eggplants are rich in phytonutrients, many of which contain powerful antioxidant qualities including one of the most powerful free-radical scavengers in the plant kingdom.
French onions are also rich in phytonutrients, particular flavonoids (like eggplants, thanks to their purple colour). Flavonoids contain a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that have been widely credited for supporting cardiovascular health and helping reduce the risk of cancer.
Rocket/arugula is a lesser known member of the cruciferous vegetable family (think kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) and contains chlorophyll which is thought to help block the carcinogenic effects that may be caused by grilling foods at high temperatures.
This salad works beautifully topped with pine nuts and feta – I like to use goat’s feta but use whatever you like best.
- 2 eggplant/aubergines (medium to large)
- 3 french onions (medium to large)
- 100g / 3.5oz rocket/arugula or mixed salad leaves
- 100g / 3.5oz good quality feta (I like goat’s fetta)
- 50g / 1.75oz pine nuts
- Half a lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons good quality balsamic
- Pre-heat the BBQ to medium-high heat and allow to heat for 5-10 minutes
- Cut the eggplant/aubergine into slices around 1.5cm or half and inch thick and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Cut the onion into wedges and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil
- Place the eggplant/aubergine and french onion on the BBQ
- The eggplant will need to cook for around 12 minutes on the first side then around 8 minutes on the second side (check during this time however to make sure it doesn’t burn)
- The french onion will need to cook for around 10 minutes total – turn a couple of times during this period so that it’s nicely cooked all over
- Remove the eggplant and onion from the BBQ and allow to cool
- Bring a frying pan to a medium to high heat then add the pine nuts and toast for a minute or two until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn as the pine nuts cook quickly
- Meanwhile mix up the dressing and place the rocket in a large salad bowl
- Cut the eggplant/aubergine into large chunks and add to the salad along with the rocket and BBQ French onion
- Add the dressing a little at a time until the rocket and vegetables are lightly coated (you may not need the whole lot) then crumble through the feta and top with the toasted pine nuts