jacques pepin\'s asian salad with eggplant
1 1/4 lbs eggplant
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp garlic
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp Tabasco
or adjust to taste
8 cups watercress
leaves and tender stems
We love how Jacques Pepin (JP) appreciates flavors that he probably didn't grow up eating, some examples being Tabasco and Asian condiments like soy sauce and sesame oil. This recipe combines all of the above and makes for a really tasty eggplant salad. Every time we make this dish, we'll always exclaim to ourselves, “Wow, we forgot how good this is!” Its bold flavor profile makes it great for entertaining. Adapted from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Peel the eggplants and cut them into strips, 1/4-inch thick. Arrange on cookie sheets, coat both sides with canola oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the eggplant is soft and slightly browned.
In a working glass or small bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, olive oil, and Tabasco to make the salad dressing. Whisk to combine ingredients and dissolve the sugar. Reserve.
Wash, dry, and divide the watercress. Fold and arrange the eggplant slices over the watercress. Just before serving, drizzle with dressing to taste.
source: Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way
We used to bake the eggplant on foil-lined cookie sheets, but hated how we'd have to scrape eggplant off the foil. We recently made it with parchment paper and fell in love. No more scraping!

If we are only cooking for 2, we still go ahead and bake all the slices from the whole eggplant. The next day, we simply reheat the eggplant in the oven and assemble another salad from leftover watercress and dressing.

The dressing is delicious, but potent. Keep in mind that you'll probably have more dressing than you'll need ... don't feel like you have to use it all or else the dish becomes really salty.

We often utilize multi-purpose working glasses with lids to prep dressings. We simply cover any leftover dressing with the lid to store it in the fridge. When the dressing is gone, we simply rinse the working glass and toss it in the dishwasher.

We usually use the tender tops of the watercress for this salad and reserve the tougher bottoms for use in JP's watercress soup.