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Grilled Eggplant and Green Bean Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Chef Ralph Conte loves Tuscany so much that he created a Tuscan-style home in Rhode Island not far from his restaurant Raphael Bistro Bar. Like many Italian Americans who came to Rhode Island, he is doing a great job keeping culinary traditions alive.

His garden is his pride and solitude, and this eggplant and green bean salad is just one example of his creativity in the kitchen. Make this early in the day for the best flavor. It is a great dish for al fresco dining.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

Juice of 2 medium lemons

1/2 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus 2 tablespoons

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Grinding coarse black pepper

1 medium size eggplant, stem top removed

2 cups cooked green beans, cut in half

1/2 cup whole mint leaves

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill.

Combine the garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, salt and pepper in a salad bowl. Set aside.

With a vegetable peeler, strip the eggplant skin lengthwise and cut it into 1/2-inch thick rounds.

Grill the slices, brushing them occasionally with the remaining olive oil. Ralph likes to do this with a rosemary sprig, but a brush will do. Do not let the slices get mushy; they should remain al dente.

Cut them into 1/2-inch strips and add them with the green beans to the bowl with the marinade. Toss gently. Add the mint leaves. Allow to sit at room temperature for several hours before serving. Accompany with Tuscan Bread.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.

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