Roasted Eggplant Salad with Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation

Makes 3-4 servings

click to enlarge

Roasted eggplant readily soaks up this exotic (but not difficult) vinaigrette, elevating this salad to focal point status for a light summer lunch.

You can make the vinaigrette well in advance.  It will keep for a good long time, refrigerated in a tightly covered container. Let it come to room temperature (and stir from the bottom – or just shake it) before using. 

Although designed specifically for the salad, the vinaigrette goes swimmingly  (if not surprisingly) with any tossed green salad. 

After you’ve used your 3 tablespoons of coconut milk for this recipe, preserve the unused remaining can contents by freezing it in an ice cube tray. Once firm, transfer the cubes to a heavy-gauge plastic bag (label it!) for longer storage. Pull out what you need, when you need it, and you will have wasted not.

Nonstick spray

1 ½ pounds eggplant, peeled if necessary, and cut into bite-sized pieces, ½-inch thick

Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1 sweet, slender cucumber, peeled only if necessary, and diced (about 1/4 pound)

1 small (or half a medium) sweet bell pepper (orange or purple especially nice), diced

A handful of very sweet cherry tomatoes, halved (or even quartered) if large

About 10 mint leaves, minced

Red pepper flakes (optional)


Optional Enhancements

Add minced jalapeno to make it a touch hot 

Add a touch of lime zest to give it more zing

Toss in some minced basil – regular or Thai

Top with a few peanuts


Vinaigrette Ingredients

½ to 1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons reduced fat coconut milk

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons agave nectar or sugar

5 tablespoons grapeseed, peanut, or canola oil 


    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment or foil, and spray it with nonstick spray. Arrange the eggplant pieces on the tray, and place the tray in the center of the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, use tongs or a small metal spatula to loosen and redistribute the pieces – and to possibly turn them over.
    2. Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes —until the eggplant pieces are very soft –and even somewhat shriveled. It’s important that they be completely tender.  While the eggplant is roasting, place 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a shallow dish (gratin pan or large pie pan.
    3. Remove the tray from the oven, sprinkle the eggplant very lightly with salt, then transfer the still-hot eggplant pieces directly to the vinaigrette in the dish. Let it sit and absorb quietly as it cools to room temperature.
    4. When the eggplant has cooled, stir in the cucumbers, pepper, and tomatoes, along with another 2 tablespoons or so of the vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to two days). Serve cold or at cool room temperature, with the mint leaves (and possibly some red pepper flakes) stirred in immediately beforehand. Top with (or stir in) Optional Enhancements, as desired.

    Vinaigrette Instructions


    1. Combine the garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, salt, and sweetener in a medium-small bowl, and whisk to thoroughly blend.
    2. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go, until it is fully incorporated.
    3. Store in a tightly covered container (a small jar with a lid is ideal) in the refrigerator. Shake and/or stir from the bottom before use.

    Yield: About ¾ cup

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