For years I’ve been searching for THE eggplant salad recipe that tastes just like one I once had and wanted to make on my own. I’ve tried many recipes, but they were not THE one. But, now, I think I’ve finally found it. Here’s a bit of the background story for how I came across this excellent recipe.
About a year ago, Canadian kosher cookbook author Norene Gilletz passed away. I was so sad, as I’ve been a fan of hers for quite some time. I had first heard of Norene back in the late 1990’s when we were both members of an e-mail group that shared kosher recipes. Then, I contacted her and asked her if she would be willing to come to South Bend to do a demonstration at the Jewish Federation’s first book fair. She came and the demo was amazing. It was so nice to meet her. I purchased a copy of her current newest cookbook, MealLeaniYumm! (later renamed Healthy Helpings) and got it signed by the author.
Over the years, I did not purchase any of her other books. The Pleasures of Your Processor didn’t appeal to me because I rarely use a food processor. Another of her cookbooks, Micro Ways, was never a consideration because I don’t use microwave ovens. I’ve never had one. I don’t want one. But since I love MealLeaniYumm! so much I didn’t really feel like I needed another of Norene’s cookbooks. There are so many great recipes in that volume that I never felt that I was lacking.
Last year when Norene passed away, I decided that I would like to get another one of her cookbooks. I looked on-line to see what she had published that didn’t highlight using a food processor or microwave or anything else that I didn’t use. There was a book called Norene’s Healthy Kitchen which had been published in 2007. I ordered a used copy. And, guess what? When it arrived I was thrilled to find that it was signed by the author! It reads; “From my kitchen to yours – cook in good health!! Norene Gilletz.” What a big smile that put on my face!
Working my way through the book, I’ve tried a number of recipes and they do not disappoint. But this eggplant salad finally ended a quest that started nearly two decades ago to replicate an amazing dish I wanted to have again and again. There are a couple of changes that I’ve made, which I will add in at the end of Norene’s recipe.
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1 (1 ½ lb.) eggplant
Salt, for sprinkling
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lg. onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ c. sugar
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro or parsley
Cut off both of the ends of the eggplant but do not remove the peel. Dice the eggplant into ½” pieces. Place the diced eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt to drain out any bitter juices. Let stand for about 30 minutes before rinsing and patting dry.
Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic for five minutes or until softened. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the eggplant. Sauté for five-seven minutes longer, until softened.
Stir in the tomato sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cilantro. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer partially covered for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve chilled.
Notes: I found the amount of tomato sauce to be a bit too much. The most recent time I made this salad I only used two cups and was much happier with the results. Also, the amount of sugar is too much for my taste. I reduced the sugar to two tablespoons and slightly reduced the lemon juice. It was still a bit too sweet for me, so I plan on using even less sugar next time.