Pan Seared Eggplant with Buttermilk Dressing


8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot or onion, chopped, divided
kosher salt
2 tablespoons buttermilk, plain yogurt or creme fraiche
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped chives, divided
12 ounces eggplant halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise on a diagonal about 1/4 inch thick — cut down to mouth-sized pieces
2 cucumbers, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/4 cup parsley leaves with tender stems
Zest from 1 lemon, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch pieces


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium  high heat. Add half of the shallot or onion, and cook, stirring often, until tender and slightly crisp around the edges (about 5 minutes). Season with salt. Remove skillet from heat. Whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, mustard, honey, and several grinds of pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the cooked shallots (or onions). Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons chives and mix well. Season with salt.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add half of the eggplant slices and arrange in a single layer; season lightly with salt. Cook, without moving, until browned underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn; cook on the second side until browned and tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the remaining eggplant. 

Let the eggplant cool slightly, then add the cucumbers, parsley, lemon juice, half the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon chives to the bowl. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the avocado. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with several spoonfuls of dressing (you don’t need to use all of it). Top with the remaining zest, shallot and 1 tablespoon of chives.