Food at my grandmother’s house was always served in abundance and family style. There was always enough food for whoever showed up last minute. The term "showed up uninvited" does not apply to grandma’s house, everyone was always welcome and felt full and loved. This lunch spread shown here was on an August hot summer day when I was in Palestine for my sister’s wedding. On the table there were lots of leftovers but always something new and fresh like this Battiri eggplant salad that teta whips up at moment’s notice. To make sure there is something for everyone to eat. Around the table is my teta, amto aida, amo hana who came from Jordan, my cousin Elias who came from San Francisco and my husband. I honestly do not know where everyone else was that day there are usually at least 5 more people around tetas table in the summertime. The gatherings at my grandparents’ home were always so memorable. The food was always locally grown and seasonal like this eggplant salad and often finished with fresh herbs from tetas garden. Locally grown eggplants have earned a significant place in the Palestinian cuisine, heritage and economy and is celebrated every summer in the village of Battir. A Palestinian village in the West Bank, 6.4 km west of Bethlehem, and southwest of Jerusalem.
Battir is a wonderful charming and an agricultural village. In 2012, Battir won a ruling to not have the Israeli's separation wall built on its land, as it would have run through ancient stone terraces and cut villagers completely off from their land, as well as the only school. The courageous village is now on the UNESCO world "heritage in danger" list due to its historic and incredible terrace farming and irrigation channels. Around this time of year, it is usually the annual Battir eggplant festival which is an occasion to celebrate the popular crop. Battiri Eggplants are long, purple in color, slender, and sweet. The locals say this eggplant is so sweet that you can just eat it raw, like a cucumber. So much more grows in this village such as olives, grapes, figs, apples, and peaches that the village is sometimes called “The Basket of Vegetables”. I was suppose to be home with my family this summer but the circumstances didn't allow. Although I don't have access to the Battiri eggplant or the gift of eating with my teta in her veranda. I am cooking recipes that feel like a hug from home. Sweet summer eggplants go so well with fresh mint, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Simple seasonal ingredients that are a match made in heaven. Stay tuned I will be sharing various ways to use one of my favorite summer herbs, the Mighty Mint later this week.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
2 Battiri eggplants if you are lucky enough to get them. I used Chinese eggplants (medium sized, about 1 lb or use Sicilian purple eggplants if they are in season both varieties are sweet and almost seedless
4 tablespoons Oil with a high smoke point for frying (grape seed, avocado, and peanut oil work well) you can also use canola
2 garlic cloves finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh Mint finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 jalapeno finely diced (optional)
Cut eggplants into ¼-inch thick slices on a diagonal or length wise however you prefer to serve it
Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan. Place eggplant in a single layer and pan fry.
Careful, it may splatter a bit, especially during the first minute or so of cooking.
Let the slices fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaining eggplant.** you can also roast the eggplants in the oven or place them in the air fryer
Mix garlic, lemon juice , olive oil, jalapeno, mint and parsley in a small bowl. Drizzle sauce mixture all over eggplants.
Serve at room temperature with charred bread and briny olives
Summer gatherings at my Grandparents home
My tetas eggplant salad