Tossing An Ono Eggplant Salad

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - January 24, 2007
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Carol and Mark O’Leary, chef owners of O’Leary’s Catering, have catered every type of event imaginable on the island of Maui for the last 20 years, and have recently expanded their business to Oahu.

Mark and Carol both attended the Culinary Institute of America, and honed their skills at top restaurants and hotels before venturing into catering in the mid-‘90s.

They use the best quality ingredients, and their perfectly prepared dishes focus on presentation and flavor. With 20 years of catering and event-planning experience, they offer exceptional quality and creativity, whether catering to an intimate party of two or a corporate event of thousands.


Carol and Mark are also offering cooking classes; for more information, call 551-8954 or go to www.longiscatering.com

Here is a special recipe from them for MidWeek readers to try.

Eggplant originated in India, and is a berry that is consumed as a vegetable. It has been cultivated in China since around 500 B.C. and presumably was introduced into Italy in the 14th century. Years of cross-breeding and cultivation have greatly improved the flavor of the eggplant. There are a number of different varieties of eggplant, but the most common both in the United States and Europe is the deep-purple, oval-shaped variety.

When purchasing, look for a firm, heavy eggplant that has a smooth, evenly colored skin. To check for ripeness, press lightly on the skin with your fingertips; if the imprint remains visible, the eggplant is ripe; if the flesh springs back it is not quite ready to eat.

Eggplant is sensitive to temperature changes and bruises easily. Stored in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator, it should keep for about a week.

It may also be blanched and frozen for up to eight months.

Eggplant is a good source of potassium, and contains copper, folic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium. It is said to be diuretic, laxative and sedative.


ROASTED MEDITERRANEAN SALSA ON GRILLED ONO WITH NALO GREENS

AND LEMON MINT VINAIGRETTE

Note: The roasted salsa is also great on crostini with goat cheese, and with grilled chicken or fish

For Roasted Salsa:

* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (triple the amount if using fresh herbs)
* 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
* 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
* 1 vine-ripened tomato, quartered
* 1/2 medium red onion, quartered
* 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/3-inch-thick (cut off and discard ends)
* 1/2 round eggplant, sliced 1/3-inch lengthwise
* 1 red or yellow pepper, center removed, quartered (you can substitute 1/2 cup bottled or canned roasted red peppers)
* 1 tablespoon fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper and garlic in a medium bowl; whisk together and toss onion and tomato in the mixture. Place on a sheet tray in one layer; bake 1 hour until the onion is caramelized (browned).

Remove from oven and cool. Set oven to broil, brush remaining vegetables with olive oil and herb mixture, place on baking sheet and broil until golden brown. Turn and brown the other side.

Let cool and reserve juices. Chop all the vegetables into 1/3-inch pieces. The tomatoes will fall apart, creating a base for the salsa. Combine all vegetables, adding the pan juices, salt and pepper as needed, and sprinkle with basil.

For Lemon Mint Vinaigrette:

* 4 tablespoon olive oil
* juice of 1 lemon
* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1 teaspoon minced shallot
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
* sea salt
* fresh ground pepper

Whisk together all ingredients, season to taste.

For Ono:

Set oven to broil (this can also be grilled).
* 6 4- to 5-ounce pieces of ono filet

Brush ono with lemon mint vinaigrette. Broil both sides about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. * 3 cups Nalo greens Toss Nalo greens with remaining lemon mint vinaigrette. Split onto six plates. Lay grilled ono on the salad and top with grilled salsa.

Makes six servings.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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