Seeing as Luanne is vegan, I was surprised that she would use meat as a positive comparison. But after biting in myself, I grasped her reasoning: The eggplant had the smoky aroma, texture, and juiciness of a rib eye steak. “Meat” was the most efficient way of describing this simple looking yet complex tasting dish.
We debated about what could possibly exalt eggplant to this level of gastronomic ecstasy. Balsamic vinegar? Worcestershire sauce? Was it a combination of honey and red wine? Our waiter must have figured, after a thorough interrogation, that we weren’t leaving without some answers, so he pulled the chefs from the
kitchen and translated our questions from English to Greek and the chefs’ answers back to English. The ingredient that was deluding us, they explained, was in the dressing. Yes, it’s always about the dressing. And this one, we learned, was a dressing based on red miso paste, among other ingredients.
Red miso, like its light and dark ochre-colored sisters, is basically a paste made of aged, fermented soy beans. It adds an immense amount of rich, earthy flavor – think shiitake mushrooms sautéed in butter and vermouth – to salad dressings, sauces and marinades. I love it not only for its flavor, but also for the viscous consistency it gives salad dressings. Years ago miso was used mainly in Asian cooking, but today it’s everywhere, including the amazing Greek Mediterranean cuisine at Boho. The chef was gracious enough to pass on his recipe so that I could in turn share it with you.
Boho’s Eggplant Carpaccio Salad
This recipe provides two large portions or four light appetizer servings.
| Serves 2-4 |
95-190 calores per serving
- 1 Japanese eggplant
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts,
- lightly toasted
- 1/2 ounce micro greens, baby
- arugula, or a combination
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
Red Miso Dressing*
- 1/4 cup red miso paste
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Scant 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- Scant 1/4 cup water
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
*Makes about 2/3 cup dressing. Use extra on any dark leaf salad such as kale, spinach or arugula.
Make the dressing: In a small saucepan over high heat, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients except for the thyme. Allow the liquid to come to a boil, lower the heat slightly, and continue to whisk for several minutes, or until the liquid thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the thyme and reduce the heat to very low. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then, remove from the heat.
Prepare the eggplant: Preheat a stovetop grill or large skillet to a medium high setting. Slice the eggplant lengthwise, very thin, and spritz or brush each piece on both sides with olive oil. Arrange on the grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until fork tender and very pliable, about 3 – 5 minutes, on each side. Transfer to a serving plate or individual dishes.
Assemble the salad: Remove the thyme sprig from the dressing and discard. Drizzle several tablespoons of the dressing over the eggplant. Garnish with the micro greens and/or arugula. Add additional fresh ground pepper to taste, if desired. Serve, and enjoy!
Here is another great salad recipe that uses miso: