Georgian Eggplant Salad (Badridzhani Mtsvanilit)
(appetizer for 6-8)
2 - 3 italian or japanese eggplants, in half lengthwise
and sprinkle the cut faces with kosher salt.  Let them sit for 30 minutes, then rinse well and pat dry.  Place them face-down on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked through.
Grind together to make a coarse mixture:
3/4 c walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t coriander seed, ground
1/2 t fenugreek, ground
1 t marigold petals
a pinch cayenne
Chop finely:
1/4 c fresh cilantro
1/4 c celery leaf
1/4 c parsley
and stir them into the nut mixture, along with:
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed in olive oil
2 t red wine vinegar
1/2 t salt, to taste
Scoop the cooked eggplant out of its skin and cut into bite-size pieces.  Stir together with the nut and herb mixture and serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes & Variations:
  1. This recipe was adapted from The Georgian Feast, by Darra Goldstein (University of California Press, 1999).
  2. Calendula blossoms are often substituted for marigold, but if you can't find either, simply omit them.
  3. Fresh mint may be added with the herbs.  Fresh dill may be substituted for the cilantro.