Georgian Eggplant Salad with Walnuts & Pomegranate Recipe


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This Georgian eggplant salad with walnut dressing and pomegranate seeds is an excellent, delicious side dish that uses classic Georgian flavours but is easier to make than something like badrijani nigvzit.

Though the flavours of this salad are quintessentially Georgian, I do throw in a few techniques here and there that aren’t necessarily typical of how a salad of this type would be made in Georgia. However, I do very much think that every step of this salad elevates the flavours and individually makes everything sing.

So if you’re looking for a unique side salad, you cannot go wrong with this!

Georgian Eggplant Walnut Salad
Georgian Eggplant Walnut Salad

How to Make a Georgian-style Eggplant Salad

As mentioned previously, I do a few things in this recipe that aren’t the typical way that a salad of this type would be prepared in Georgia.

These things are roasting the eggplant rather than frying it, toasting the walnuts and incorporating some lemon zest and juice in the dressing. Each of these steps, in my mind, make this salad really remarkable.

Ingredients for this recipe
Ingredients for this recipe

The first step will be to toast your walnuts. Though not common with walnut dishes in Georgia (and they feature everywhere – from pkhali to satsivi to Megrelian kharcho to cucumber & tomato salad), I can’t even begin to tell you how much this elevates the nuttiness and complexity of this salad. So much so that I will always toast walnuts for the other recipes going forward.

To toast the walnuts, just add them to a baking tray and chuck them in a 180℃ (350℉) for about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the walnuts are toasted, go ahead and increase the oven temperature to 200℃ (400℉).

Toasting the walnuts
Toasting the walnuts

Now it’s time to roast the eggplant. I find this salad gets more deeply flavoured if you toss the eggplant pieces in some of the spices before roasting, as well.

So in a large bowl, add your eggplant along with a bit of sunflower oil and some blue fenugreek, dried marigold, ground coriander seed and some salt and pepper.

Toss all of this to combine and add to a baking tray. Roast the eggplant for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until it’s really tender and golden in places.

Roasted eggplant strips
Roasting the eggplant

While the eggplant is roasting, make the dressing. The first step is to grind the walnuts. I like to do this in a food processor to make quick work of this, however, you can also chop them finely and bash them in a bag with a rolling pin if you’d like.

You want the walnuts to be the consistency of wet sand and to be relatively finely ground.

Ground walnuts
Ground walnuts

Once you get them to the right texture, add them to a mixing bowl. To the walnuts, grate in a bit of garlic and more of the trifecta of Georgian spices (blue fenugreek, dried marigold and coriander seed) along with some lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice (this adds a lot of brightness) and drizzle in some cool water.

Whisk all of this to combine until it’s all homogenous and thick but still pourable.

Whisking the dressing
Whisking the dressing

Now, in a large mixing bowl, add in your cooked eggplant, a sliced red onion, plenty of pomegranate seeds and a good amount of chopped fresh cilantro. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.

Tossing the salad together
Tossing the salad together

And that is it! This salad is good served right away or it keeps well in the fridge for several days.

Georgian Eggplant Salad

Georgian Eggplant Salad with Walnuts & Pomegranate

Sometimes translated to "dishevelled eggplant" on menus across Georgia, this salad is essentially a deconstructed version of the famed eggplant and walnut rolls (known as badrijani nigvzit). Make sure not to skip on toasting the walnuts, as it really amplified the complexity and nutty flavour of the dish.
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Servings 6
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 150 g ( cups) walnut halves
  • 2 small eggplants cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp blue fenugreek divided
  • tsp ground marigold also known as Georgian saffron, divided
  • tsp ground coriander seed divided
  • tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic grated or very finely minced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ red onion sliced thinly
  • 50 g ( cup) pomegranate seeds
  • 20 g (¼ cup) cilantro/coriander roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 180℃ (350℉). Add the walnuts to a baking tray. Once the oven is preheated, add the walnuts and toast for 5-7 minutes – until very fragrant and slightly darkened.
    Toasting the walnuts
  • Increase the oven temperature to 200℃ (400℉). Line a large baking tray with parchment. In a large bowl, add the eggplant and drizzle with 45 ml (3 tbsp) of sunflower oil. Sprinkle over 1 tsp of blue fenugreek, ½ tsp ground marigold, ½ tsp ground coriander seed, ¼ tsp of coarse sea salt and a generous grind of pepper. Toss until thoroughly combined.
    Prepping the eggplant
  • Spread the eggplant over the prepared baking tray (it may be slightly crowded, but they will shrink significantly during cooking). Move to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until they have reduced in size and are extremely tender.
    Baking the eggplant
  • While the eggplant is cooking, grind the walnuts in a food processor (see note) until extremely fine and the consistency resembles wet sand. Add them to a medium bowl.
    Grinding the walnuts
  • To the bowl with the walnuts, add the remaining 2 tsp of blue fenugreek, 1 tsp of ground marigold and 1 tsp of ground coriander seed along with the cayenne pepper, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Pour in 90 ml (⅓ cup) of cool water and whisk to combine.
    Whisking the dressing
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked and cooled eggplant, the onion, the pomegranate seeds and the cilantro. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Serve.
    Tossing the salad together

Notes

If you don’t have a food processor, you can grind the walnuts in a mortar and pestle or by finely chopping them with a sharp knife. Transfer the walnut bits to a zip-top bag and then bash with a rolling pin or the back of a pan until thoroughly ground. The walnuts won’t be as ground as in a food processor, however, they will still be of an acceptable consistency. 
It is also possible to use walnut meal if it’s available at your local supermarket. If using walnut meal, then you can toast it in the same way as the walnut pieces.

Nutrition

Calories: 223kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 284IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

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If you’re after an easy and delicious Georgian eggplant dish, then this is an excellent option. It’s simple to make and incredibly tasty!

Are you looking for a great Georgian eggplant dish? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More

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