Summer Salad | Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Cucumber

One of my favorite cookbooks on my bookshelf is titled “Plenty” by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi. I was first drawn to it by the beautiful photography but after thumbing through the pages I soon realized that the holistic nature of the foods he prepares is in exact keeping with how I want to eat and how I want to feed my family. The recipe I’m making today is a slightly altered one that he and Chef Sami Tamimi prepared together for a 2014 bon appétit feature. I now have three of his cookbooks and have made many of his dishes. Yotam seems to be a master at catching food at the peak of it’s season and highlighting the natural flavors to bring out the best in its natural simplicity. This Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Cucumber Salad is one of our new favorites.

We’ve had so many family conversations lately about what the food we eat is actually doing for us.  My husband and I are always trying to shed excess weight but more than the next size smaller in our closet what we really want is good health.  The poor health epidemic in the US is undeniable.  Everywhere you look it seems people are carying more weight around their mid sections. In our travels around our country it seems to be getting worse.  Even upscale areas where the diet seems to be healthier there are people who are having the same issue.  I have long held the opinion that since the early 50’s the way we process and market foods has had a great deal to do with the change in the way food effects our bodies.  We’ve watched all the documentaries on the subject and can’t help but believe that the eggs, bread and bacon our grandparents ate daily is not the same food we buy today. I don’t have the answer but I think the days of mindlessly waltzing through the grocery store picking up what ever is cheapest or appeals to our appetite need to be over.  I don’t believe that advertizers are motivated by the best interest of my families health.  Drugs agencies have become such a cash cow (sorry for the pun) that it is more lucretive to treat diabetes and heart disease than to prevent it. My dear friend Amy who has been on this path for many years used to preach this to me during our many walks together and I guess I wasn’t ready to hear it, didn’t believe it or just didn’t think it was that big a deal.  Well, she was right about all of it and it is a big deal.  We want to live a healthy life and in order to live it fully I nead to fuel myself and my family with food that will enable us to live it to the fullest.  So, if you see more vegetables, fruits and healthy grains here or sweet treats made with locally sourced non GMO ingredients and alternatives to processed sugars, you’ll understand why. I like all foods.  I believe in moderation and my boys will continue to eat meat.  However I will be very careful about where it comes from and how it was processed.

I talked with a woman who worked at whole foods about my theory and she said “it doesn’t matter what these foods do to help or hurt you, I’m on a limited budget and can’t afford to eat unprocessed foods.”  That made me pause.  What have we done to ourselves? I know from my social media accounts that there are many people who are already living this healthy lifestyle of conscious eating and fitness.  I’m going to keep trying to get it right.  Feel free to reach out if you have thoughts on the topic!

I know the salad I’m sharing today is imperfect.  It calls for fried eggplant and uses whole milk yogurt. I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water.  What I do know is that this salad is far better than a bag of chips and a trip through the drive through.  If you’re further down the health path feel free to alter this recipe to suit your lifestyle.  I know that some of my friends (you know who you are) think that means figure out how I can add bacon to the recipe.  You have missed the point!

This fried egg-plant salad was gone in an embarrassingly short amount of time.  I think I saw my son physically move my daughter over so he could get the last bite. We will definitely add this salad to our meal rotation as long as these ingredients are in season. I hope you’ll try it and that you will enjoy it as much as my family did.

Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Eggplant is like a sponge. Salting it dries out moisture and firms up the flesh and deep-frying it ensures it cooks evenly until creamy throughout. I assure you that this process is well worth your time.


  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley with tender Stems
  • one clove garlic, chopped (see note*)
  • Two small green chile’s, such as Thai, seeds removed, chopped, divided.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 3/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 medium egg plants about 1 1/2 pound cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Vegetable oil for frying about 2 cups
  • 1 pound small tomatoes, about eight cut into wedges
  • 1/2 pound Parisian cucumbers about three sliced.

*I altered the recipe to suit my family who does not care for spicy chile’s.  I doubled the garlic and omitted the chile.



  • Purée the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and half of the chili’s and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Season Herb oil with salt and set aside.
  • Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl season with salt and set yogurt sauce aside.
  • Place eggplant in a colander, set in the sink, season with 3/4 teaspoon salt let’s sit 30 minutes to drain, then pat dry.
  • Fit a medium pot with a deep fry thermometer. Pour the vegetable oil to measure 2 inches, heat over medium heat until the thermometer registers 375° note:I didn’t have a thermometer.  I let it get hot then between batches let it get hot again before adding the next batch.  It worked fine.  If you over crowd the pot the eggplant will not brown. I did it in three batches.
  • Working in batches and returning oil to 375°f  between batches. Fry egg plants turning often until golden brown and tender, about five minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon transfer the egg plants to paper towels and drain. Season with salt let cool.
  • Combine egg plants in a large bowl with tomatoes cucumbers and remaining chili’s drizzle with some reserve herbal oil and toss to combine season salad with salt. Spoon reserved yogurt sauce onto a platter top with a salad and drizzle with more herbal oil.
  • The herb oil and yogurt sauce can be made one day I had cover and chill separately.

Growing up we always had freshly canned vegetables, homemade jams and plenty of homemade pickles. Cucumbers were always a staple in our refrigerator. Cucumber salad’s were usually on the table at dinner time. My Mom would soak the sliced cucumbers in a salty brine (and by salty brine I mean 1/4 cup of salt to maybe a tablespoon of water) let it sit while the rest of the dinner was being prepared, then drain and rinse them. This ensured that when she made the cucumber salad they were extra crunchy and had some of that salty flavor soaked into it. Often times she would mix whatever was in the garden, dill, fennel, onions or tomatoes adding vinegar and sometimes a bit of sugar. This salad is a throwback to my dinner memories from home.

Cucumber Dill Salad


  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • sea salt freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 red onion thinly slice
  • one English cucumber sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill


  • Add vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper to a jar with the lid and shake well to mix.
  • Add onion to the dressing and let pickle for 30 minutes
  • Stir together cucumber and dill in a bowl, drain excess water, toss salad with dressing and onions just before serving.

Enjoy!  And, feel free to hit that “share it on Facebook” button below. xo


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