Grilled Eggplant and Bread Salad
4 plum tomatoes, halved
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into rings about 1 inch thick
3 T. vegetable oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 T. minced garlic
1/2 C. balsamic vinegar
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
3 T. grainy mustard
3/4 C. olive oil
2 large eggplants, cut lengthwise into planks about 1-inch thick
1/3 C. vegetable oil
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
4 thick slices crusty bread
4 plum tomatoes, diced large
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced small
1/2 C. Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted
1/2 C. roughly chopped fresh basil
1 T. minced garlic
Make the dressing: Rub the tomatoes and onions with the vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and place on the grill over a medium-hot fire. Cook for four to five minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Remove them from the fire and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut into small chunks and put in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard and pulse until the mixture is pureed but still somewhat chunky. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil just until incorporated. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
Rub the eggplant stalks with the vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grill over a medium-hot fire four to five minutes per side, or until well browned. At the same time, place the bread on the grill around the edges of the fire, where the heat is low, and toast until fairly dry and golden brown – four to five minutes. Remove the eggplant and bread from the grill when they are done, and when cool enough to handle, cut them into medium chunks.
Assemble salad: In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, tomatoes, red onion, olives, basil, and garlic, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss well. Just before serving, add the bread to the mixture, stir the dressing well, and add just enough dressing to moisten the ingredients. Toss well and serve at once to prevent the bread from becoming soggy.
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