I keep a food journal when we travel. It’s nothing fancy, just a little book that isn’t my iPhone. There are no pictures or charming doodles… there aren’t really even sentences, just scribbles of ingredients and descriptions of what we ate and where. Some dishes, I’ll try to recreate at home, but not all of them. The chosen few that make it into my kitchen come down to a few criteria: how badly I crave something, the ability to decipher my chicken-scratch handwriting, and the availability of similar ingredients.
This eggplant salad (a take-away lunch I ate one day at Roscioli) easily checked all three boxes, especially since it’s eggplant season! I loved how perfectly these simple ingredients worked together: hearty farro, sautéed eggplant, and roasted tomatoes with lots of basil & olive oil. It had my name written all over it, and I thought you all would like it too.
Eggplant Salad Recipe Variations
This eggplant salad recipe came together even more easily than I expected, with no fancy dressing or cheese required! I cooked my eggplant simply in a pan with garlic and chickpeas and tossed it with farro, arugula, basil, and pine nuts.
The bright tangy flavor in this salad comes from roasting the tomatoes until they’re shriveled up and lightly dry and brown around the outside. Their concentrated sweet flavor is what makes this, although you could also chop up sun-dried tomatoes in a pinch.
I love this eggplant salad prepared as written, but if you want to change it up, here are a few suggestions:
- For extra crunch, roast the chickpeas instead of sautéing them.
- Top everything with shaved Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese.
- Add zucchini or summer squash to the pan with the eggplant.
- Toss in some diced roasted red peppers.
- Sprinkle some chopped parsley leaves in along with the basil.
- Substitute quinoa for farro to make this salad gluten-free.
Let me know what variations you try!
Eggplant Salad Serving Suggestions
Serve this salad on its own or as part of a larger summer dinner. The best part about it is that it keeps well. You can meal prep it for lunch and store it in the fridge, or make it ahead for dinner and serve it at room temperature. I even ate my leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg on top – which is not the Italian way, but it was so delicious that I recommend you try it anyway.
If you want ideas for what to serve with eggplant salad, try it as a side with veggie burgers, black bean burgers, or portobello burgers. You could also treat it as the main course alongside gazpacho, watermelon gazpacho, or corn on the cob. I highly recommend chocolate zucchini cake for dessert!
If you love this eggplant salad recipe…
- 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3-4 small eggplant
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- ¾ cup uncooked farro
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- Big handful of arugula
- Big handful of torn basil
- Generous splashes of sherry vinegar
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cherry tomatoes on the baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until they’re shriveled up and golden brown around the edges - about 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of your tomatoes.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farro and reduce heat to a high simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Chop the eggplant into 1-inch pieces and place on a paper towel with a few pinches of salt. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. As water releases from the eggplant flesh, pat it dry. (This is my shortcut. If you want to properly salt your eggplant this is a good video).
- In a large skillet, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat, add the eggplant and cook until it’s tender and golden brown on each side, about 10-12 minutes. Add the chickpeas and garlic halfway through, along with a few pinches of salt and pepper.
- Add the roasted tomatoes, cooked eggplant and chickpea mixture, pine nuts, arugula and basil to the large bowl with the farro. Add a generous splash of sherry vinegar and toss. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (and more sherry vinegar if necessary), to taste.