Eggplant Salad with Pine Nuts (Kioupia)
About four miles into the island of Rhodes, I found a converted farmhouse nestled in the mountains, where I was served this eggplant dish. It is similar to baba ghanoush, but because the yogurt replaces the sesame-seed paste, it’s lighter - and less caloric! While I don’t know the genesis of this dish, the island of Rhodes had a large Jewish population after the 15th century and the use of eggplant and yogurt is indicative of a Jewish connection.
- Wash the whole eggplants and pierce with a small, sharp knife in one or two places.
- Place them on a cookie sheet and broil (alternatively, grill on an outdoor hot charcoal grill), turning the eggplants every 10 minutes until they are deflated and their skins are charred.
- Transfer the eggplants to a colander placed in the sink and slit the skins open. Allow the eggplants to drain for at least 10 minutes, until they are cool enough to handle.
- Remove some of the seeds (not all) and discard the stem and skin.
- Scoop the eggplant pulp into a processor workbowl (or a regular workbowl if a processor is not available).
- Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
- Pulse the processor on and off 7 times until the mixture is fairly smooth but still a little chunky. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Alternatively, stir briskly with a fork and/or wire whisk.
- Whisk in the Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. If the mixture appears too dry, add more olive oil or lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Toast the pine nuts on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven until lightly golden (approximately 5 minutes).
- Just before serving, fold the toasted nuts into the eggplant, reserving a few for garnish. Serve at room temperature or cold.
- If you can, roast your eggplant outdoors—it imparts a unique flavor to the eggplant. Otherwise, indoor broiling works fine.