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Grilled eggplant salad can be served as main dish |

Grilled eggplant salad can be served as main dish

| Tuesday, September 15, 2009 12:00 a.m

Eggplant is like a sponge.

That’s fine when you’re talking spices. Not so good when it hits the frying pan.

In its uncooked state, eggplant is low in calories and sodium and rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and healthful antioxidants. To avoid immersing eggplant in a pool of oil, Grilled Eggplant Salad With Herb and Caper Vinaigrette uses olive oil-flavored cooking spray and grills rather than fries the star ingredient.

The lightened recipe is similar to the Sicilian dish caponata but without the pine nuts and anchovies.

If desired, sprinkle with crumbled low-fat feta cheese or shredded Parmesan cheese just before serving. This rich and wonderful salad is hearty and could be served for lunch or as a vegetarian main dish. Or, add grilled chicken or shrimp for a main dish.

Grilled Eggplant Salad with Herb and Caper Vinaigrette

• 1 medium-size eggplant (about 1 pound)

• Olive oil-flavored cooking spray

• 1 sweet red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch wedges

• 6 to 8 medium-size mushrooms, trimmed

• 1/2 red onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick

• 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

• 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

• 1 tablespoon capers, drained

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1 large ripe tomato, coarsely chopped

• 4 cups torn romaine or lettuce greens

Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Spray both sides of the eggplant with the cooking spray; set aside.

Place the red pepper, whole mushrooms and red onion slices in a zip-top bag. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil; seal and toss to coat. Drain and discard any collected oil.

Spray a grill grate with cooking spray. Preheat the grill to medium-high, or allow coals to burn down to white ash.

Grill the eggplant, red pepper, mushrooms and red onion for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender, turning to brown evenly.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, basil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, capers, garlic and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Coarsely chop the grilled vegetables and add to the vinaigrette. Add the tomato and toss gently.

Arrange the romaine or lettuce greens on 4 individual salad plates. Spoon the chopped vegetable mixture over the salad greens.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving (about 1 1/2 cups vegetables, 1 cup lettuce and 2 tablespoons dressing per serving): 115 calories (29 percent from fat), 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 0 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams dietary fiber, 46 milligrams sodium

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