sweet ’n’ sour summer salad with aubergine caviar

flavours balance harmoniously in this sweet ’n’ sour summer salad with aubergine caviar

photos by karen messer

Food brings people together and provides a good reason to share, and that is what I looked for after finishing six years of cooking school in France. I worked in Germany, England and on a cruise ship until I finally made my way to Montréal. After a few more years working as a chef de cuisine, I felt something was missing from my life. I needed to combine cooking with community: to feel part of something and to help people, rather than perpetuate individual excess in gourmet bistros and floating restaurants.

I started volunteering as a chef in a community organization and put on cooking workshops for children and new mothers. A year and a half ago, I became kitchen manager for Santropol Roulant, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that uses an innovative meals-on-wheels program to break social and economic isolation between generations. We engage a diversity of people to take an active role in their communities through initiatives that address the health and food security needs of seniors and Montréalers living with a loss of autonomy. It’s a gift to work with people who believe in nourishing a healthy community around food.

In honour of these gifts, I offer this delicious salad, which combines two of my favourite summer recipes: aubergine “caviar” and a fruity sweet ’n’ sour salad. It can be eaten as an appetizer, a main dish or even as a dessert. If you have an allergy to nuts, I recommend omitting the hazelnut oil and using cooked chickpeas instead of pecans. This recipe doesn’t require any culinary prowess, but it’s elegant enough to look like it does!

sweet ’n’ sour summer salad with aubergine caviar

6 servings
preparation time: approx. 1 hour

1 pkg. spring mix salad
3 nectarines
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. hazelnut oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. raspberry vinegar
150 g raspberries
pecans, toasted, for garnish

aubergine caviar:
6 aubergines
2 tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
6 slices baguette or country bread
2 tbsp. chives, chopped
salt and pepper
1    Wash all the fruits and vegetables.

2    Cut the aubergines and tomatoes in half lengthwise. Roast in the oven at 350°F for 20–25 minutes.

3    Cut the nectarines into thin slices.

4    Make vinaigrette by mixing the two oils, the lemon juice and the raspberry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

5    Remove the roasted aubergines and tomatoes from the oven, peel off the skin and finely chop. Add chopped garlic and transfer to a mixing bowl.

6    Slowly add the olive oil and lemon juice to this mixture. Mix well.

7    Spread caviar onto toasted slices of baguette or other crusty bread and top with chives.      
8    On each plate, place the spring mix, seasoned with vinaigrette, and top with nectarines, raspberries and pecans. Place toasted baguette spread with aubergine caviar on the edge of the plate and enjoy!

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