Remember those ingredients that elevate a dish without taking center stage? Ingredients that you add to foods out of habit, and sometimes without even thinking about it? I like to think of them as the unsung heroes of the culinary world. These are the ingredients you constantly rely on, which can always be found in your pantry/fridge – very much present, yet grossly underrated.
As a child I never had much of a relationship with blueberries. My aunt was great at canning, and she would spend summers at her house in the countryside, picking various fruits and canning them with a vengeance. She did not have blueberry bushes in her garden though, and she hardly ever used blueberries. I also remember my parents buying blueberries for me during the summer from farmers selling them by the cup on the side of the road. I loved the deep blue color of the blueberries, but as a child I didn’t know much about them.
This is a dish I grew up with as a child, and I absolutely love it. I remember my mother and my aunt making this regularly during the summer months, and freezing lots of eggplants in plastic bags for the winter. Back then, we did not have a food processor or a blender, and my mom used to spend a lot of time mincing the roasted and peeled eggplants with a knife, in an attempt to turn them into a puree. The process was time-consuming and the result was far from perfect: despite my mom’s best efforts, the salad usually had lumps in it. Thankfully, modern kitchen gadgets make this dish a breeze to prepare.
I love eating salads in the summer. As days are getting warmer I like to feel my skin breathing through its pores in the sunshine, and I crave easy, colorful meals to match the lightness of the world outside. My body – exhausted by the comfort food of seasons past – is screaming for relief. I give it salad. Lots of it.