When you think of French food, you think steak frites and foie gras. The last thing that comes to mind are vegetarian options (unless you're talking croissants, of course).
Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini has a treat for non-meat eaters. The award-winning blogger and bestselling author's latest, "The French Market Cookbook," combines her love of French cuisine with the vibrant, fresh vegetables she finds at farmers markets. In it Dusoulier includes 90 vibrant vegetarian recipes created in her Parisian apartment. Here's one for your next summer soiree. Your vegetarian friends will love you.
Eggplant and Fresh Herb Tabbouleh (Taboulé d’ aubergine aux herbes fraîches)
"I have a great fondness for the North African style of making tabbouleh, which calls for couscous rather than the Middle Eastern bulgur wheat, and uses a greater proportion of grain to herb for a more filling salad. The classic taboule revolves around tomatoes, cucumbers and mint, but I prefer this eggplant version, spiked with a mix of herbs and a sesame dressing. Throughout the summer I’ll make salads like this one to serve as my workday lunches, taking advantage of how effortless it is to prepare couscous: I’ll make a big bowl early in the week, and eat my way through it on subsequent days. But this particular tabbouleh is fit for a crowd, too; I always serve it at the party I throw for my birthday every July."
1.5 pounds/680 g small eggplants
Fine sea salt
2 cups (12 ounces/340 g) whole wheat couscous
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups / 480 ml boiling water
1 rounded tablespoon all-natural tahini
1 tablespoon harissa, or more to taste
¼ cup/60 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup/30 g sliced fresh mint leaves
1 cup/30 g sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup/30 g sliced fresh cilantro leaves
1. Cut the eggplants into 1/3-inch/8 mm pieces. Put in a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and let rest for 1 hour. This will help remove any bitterness. Turn out onto a clean kitchen towel and squeeze gently to absorb the juices.
2. Set up a steamer. Steam the eggplant, tightly covered, until very tender but still holding their shape, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool. This can be done a day ahead and the eggplants refrigerated.
3. In a large heatproof salad bowl, combine the couscous and onion. Stir in the olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling water over the couscous. Cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes (or according to package directions). Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
4. In a small bowl, combine the tahini, harissa and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, making sure it is incorporated before adding the next to prevent curdling. Add 2 tablespoons water and stir until smooth. You want a dressing that’s pourable, but not too thin; add a little more water as necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
5. Pour the dressing over the couscous and toss to combine. Fold in the eggplant and mint, basil, and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The salad will keep for a few days.
Reprinted from "The French Market Cookbook." Copyright © 2013 by Clotilde Dusoulier. Photographs copyright © 2013 by Françoise Nicol. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC.