Thursday, March 11, 2010

"...which is also a town." (Roasted eggplant and mushroom salad with pine nuts)

The Sweet Partner in Crime didn't teach me that a salad by itself could be a full meal.

I used to do this all the time back in the day. Stop by Kroger on the way back to my Lexington bachelor pad, snag a bag of greens, some tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, usually some deli meat and whatever else struck my fancy. Bring it home, chop up everything, throw it in with the lettuce, add some Italian dressing, mix well. Take bowl in front of television. Mindlessly eat.

You know, general bachelor cooking.

No, what the SPinC taught me was a salad by itself could be a really good meal.

We had gorgeous weather yesterday. The day before was nice, but it felt like a warm day in the middle of a cold snap. Yesterday felt like spring. I saw things popping out of the ground, a few crocuses blooming -- good stuff. I needed to cook something outside. I just didn't want anything heavy. I found an old Gourmet magazine (I only read it for the pictures, really!) while I going through a stack of magazines, and it happened to be an issue with an article on grilling. I found this fascinating sounding salad -- spinach salad with grilled eggplant and pine nuts. Lemon-oil dressing with lots of marjoram. Why not?

Headed to the store, picked up the requisite makings, and got the grill going and  got the pine nuts to toasting. I found a few mushrooms when I was going through the fridge, so I threw them on a skewer. Made the dressing and brushed the eggplant (sliced 1" thick) with it. Grilled up the eggplant and mushrooms. Chopped them, tossed them in the salad. Topped with some feta and plated the whole thing up. The final result? See for yourself:

It was light but substantial, fresh but filling. Very, very tasty. If you want to see the original recipe before I messed with it a bit, click here.

This is a rough wine pairing, though. Citrus and bitter from the greens and smoky eggplant. Oh, and nuts, those wonderful toasted pine nuts. (I'll have those in just about anything.) We tried a couple of wines -- the last of that Lurton pinot from a couple of nights ago, and a Penfold's Aussie shiraz/cab blend I'd picked up on a whim. We also had a little sauvignon blanc. I thought the Penfold's worked the best, because the wine needed some fruit and force to able to hang with all of the different flavors we had going on there.

A guilt-free food evening. Gotta love it.

start to finish: under half an hour.
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