Roasted eggplant and couscous salad

Summer is slowly fading into early fall. Before you know it, fat red tomatoes, sweet corn and fresh berries will give way to root vegetables and fruits such as apples and pears.

But there’s still time to enjoy one of the late-summer season’s most versatile offerings — eggplant.

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This recipe works for any kind of eggplant, though baby varieties tend to have more of a tender flesh and will roast up creamier.

ROASTED EGGPLANT WITH WHOLE WHEAT COUSCOUS

Serves: 6-8

1 pound baby eggplant

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, halved, sliced

2 tablespoons za’atar seasoning

For couscous:

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth or water

2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of sweet or smoked paprika

2 cups Israeli couscous

4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as a combination of cilantro, chives, parsley and/or mint

For tahini dressing:

1/4 cup tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, or a combination, with some reserved for serving

For salad:

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Lemon slices or wedges, for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim ends from eggplant. Slice in half lengthwise, then cut into half-moons. Place in bowl and toss with olive oil. Add sliced onion, toss to combine and sprinkle with za’atar seasoning. Toss to mix well.

Bake, turning vegetables once or twice, until eggplant is tender and onion is golden, 15-20 minutes.

While veggies are roasting, make couscous. Heat broth, butter or oil, garlic, salt and paprika in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the couscous through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any excess cooking liquid. Stir in chopped herbs and set aside.

Make dressing: Mix all the ingredients with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust salt.

Transfer cooked vegetables to a large serving bowl. Add herbed couscous, tomatoes, feta and several tablespoons of the tahini dressing. Toss gently to mix.

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Serve garnished with more chopped herbs and lemon slices.

— Adapted from the Chicago Tribune

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