Aubergine’s meaty flesh means it can be a good centrepiece to a vegetarian salad. The Date Molasses adds a sticky sweetness to the dressing that pairs well with the creamy saltiness of the feta cheese and fresh flavour of the mint.
1 aubergine, cut into long wedges, around 6-8 pieces
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2½tbsp Date Molasses
2tbsp Sherry Vinegar
150ml sunflower oil
4tbsp plain flour (use chickpea or corn flour if you prefer gluten free)
100g baby spinach
Handful fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
1tbsp Roasted Buckwheat Kasha
Sprinkle salt all over the aubergine wedges and place in a colander to drain for 15 minutes.
Place a frying pan on a high heat. Season the red onion with salt and ½tbsp Olive Oil and break apart the onion with your fingers so the slices have separated. When the pan is hot, add the onion and spread around. Leave to cook for 1-2 minutes then toss the onions and leave for another 2 minutes. Repeat one more time then tip the onions into a bowl. The idea is to almost dry fry the onions, so that they are slightly black and blistered but retain some crunch as they are not fully cooked.
To make the dressing, combine the Date Molasses, Sherry Vinegar and Olive Oil in a small cup. Season with salt and pepper then stir to combine and set aside.
Add the sunflower oil to the pan and place on a medium to high heat. Whilst the oil is heating up, place the flour on a plate and dip the cut sides of the aubergine into them, so they have a layer of flour that sticks.
Test the temperature of the oil by frying a small piece of bread – if it sizzles and fries and does not get dark too quickly, then it is ready. Carefully add the aubergines into the hot oil and fry for around 3 minutes, then use tongs to turn the aubergine over. If the oil looks like it is smoking, or the aubergines are going black rather than brown, turn the heat down. Turn again so that all sides of the aubergines have been cooked and the edges are crispy and golden. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
In a large bowl mix the spinach, red onion and mint, and season with salt and pepper. Add a few spoons of the dressing and toss quickly so that everything is coated. Divide between plates then add the aubergine slices. Crumble the feta over the top, followed by the Kasha. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top.