We love eggplant in all its different shapes and size… did you know that more than 4 Billion acres across the world are planted with numerous varieties? This relative of the tomato and potato is a food chameleon – absorbing the flavors of whatever it is cooked with and adding its unique meaty texture to the dish.

The salad we are featuring this week can be a side or a main, as it combines eggplant with leafy greens and other veggies, and is topped with capers and our herb of the week, Basil. Just like eggplant, Basil is used in cuisines around the world. Here in the US we commonly think of it as part of Italian cuisine. Indeed, our recipe takes its flavor cues from Italy with the addition of red peppers, tomatoes and pecorino romano cheese.

Not only does Basil taste great, its also a powerhouse of nutrition.  This herb is a primary “go to” choice for its anti- inflammatory properties. This effect stems from eugenol, a volatile oil in basil that blocks enzymes in the body that cause swelling. Both fresh basil and basil oil have strong antibacterial capabilities as well. In fact, basil has been shown to stop the growth of many bacteria, so add ing it to your salad ensures its safe to eat!

Eggplant Pecorino

1 Large Eggplant, cut in long slices

1 – 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

1 Cup Freshly Grated Pecorino Romano

6 Cups Arugula

3 Roma Tomatoes cut in thin long slices

1 Recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette*

1 Roasted Red Pepper, Chopped

½ Cup Capers

½ Cup Basil, Chiffonade

Step One

Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant on a grill pan, in a cast iron or on a grill outside – about 2 minutes a side. While the eggplant slices are still hot off the grill, sprinkle some grated Pecorino cheese over them.

Step Two

Divide the arugula between 4 salad plates. Begin layering the eggplant and tomato slices, each layer perpendicular to the other. Drizzle with dressing and top with red pepper, capers and basil.

* Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 TB Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp Dijon Mustard

¼ to ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Dry or Fresh Herbs as Desired

1 Grated Garlic Clove, optional

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