I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m sort of over caprese. Shhh shhh shhh shhh. I know. I KNOW. Crazy talk. But it’s true. My threshold for caprese was met, I have full caprese saturation. During the summer, and what has become that typical Los Angeles post-summer phase where it’s in the 80s through November, caprese is my answer to anything. Tomatoes are at their peak in flavor and texture, basil is growing like mad, and the combination with milky mozzarella is always delicious. But always delicious can get a bit boring, and in an attempt to avoid a desert island scenario where I only eat caprese, I decided to mix it up.
Sumac, a Turkish spice, gives the eggplant a tart kick, and when combined with cumin and chili powder, this basic salad of tomatoes, basil, and feta takes a decidedly middle eastern and delicious turn.
3 cups tomatoes, wedged or chopped into 2 inch sections
1 garlic clove, minced
2 small eggplant (net 2 cups)
1 teaspoon sumac (or lemon zest if you can’t find it)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili
salt and pepper
1 pita, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons mint, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 cup feta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the eggplant into 1 inch thick slices. Drizzle with half of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, sumac, chili and cumin. Drizzle the pita with the remaining olive oil and some salt and pepper. Cook both in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the eggplant and cook for another 10 minutes until the pita is golden brown and the eggplant is tender.
Chop the eggplant into 1 inch sections and add to the tomatoes. Add the herbs, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then add the pita and feta, stirring a couple of times to combine.