The eggplant buffet is like a sponge. Salting it draws out moisture and firms up the flesh, and deep-frying ensures it chefs calmly till creamy throughout. Worth your time.
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 small green chiles, such as Thai, seeds removed, chopped, divided
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
- 3/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
- Vegetable oil (for frying; about 2 cups)
- 1 pound small tomatoes (about 8), cut into wedges
- 1/2 pound Persian cucumbers (about 3), sliced
- Special equipment:
- A deep-fry thermometer
- Purée cilantro, parsley, garlic, half of the chiles, and 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor until very smooth; season herb oil with salt and set aside.
- Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl; season with salt and set yogurt sauce aside.
- Place eggplants in a colander set in the sink; season with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let sit 30 minutes to drain, then pat dry.
- Fit a medium pot with a thermometer; pour in vegetable oil to measure 2″. Heat over medium-high heat until a thermometer registers 375°.
- Working in batches and returning oil to 375° between batches, fry eggplants, turning often, until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplants to paper towels to drain; season with salt. Let cool.
- Combine eggplants in a large bowl with tomatoes, cucumbers, and remaining chives; drizzle with some reserved herb oil and toss to combine. Season salad with salt.
- Spoon reserved yogurt sauce onto a platter, top with salad, and drizzle with more herb oil.
- Do ahead: Herb oil and yogurt sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill separately.