Eggplant Interrupted


Eggplant and I have an on-again, off-again relationship. Baba ganoush good. Eggplant parm bad. Sautéing eggplant bad. Grilling eggplant good. If you don't get it right, it can be tough, flavorless or just an oil-soaked sponge. I got a Spanish varietal with its telltale white stripes and thinner skin in my farm box, so I decided to cut it into thin slices and grill it. I took to the net to get the proper instructions on grilling eggplant and happened upon this grilled eggplant recipe from Fine Cooking...Grilled Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta & Herbs.

Fine cooking is Mark's department, so I kept the mortar and pestle in the cabinet, skipped toasting spices, combined some other steps out of laziness and came up with this ridiculously delicious dish that totally blew me, Mark and my friends away. The dressing will have a permanent place in my fridge, and I suggest keeping this permanently on your "What Can I Bring?" list when invited to a friend's house.

I made this twice in one week. The second time with the standard purple eggplant - see photo. Skins were definitely tougher, so I have a white-striped big daddy waiting on my counter for tomorrow. Can't wait!

Ingredients

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • Pinch kosher salt

  • 1.5 T fresh lemon juice

  • 1 small shallot, very finely diced

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • Pinch cayenne

  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 lb.), trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil; more if needed

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta; more if wanted

  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh mint

  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

For the dressing...

  • Combine lemon juice with the minced garlic, shallots and salt in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

  • Whisk in the olive oil, cumin, and cayenne.

  • Season to taste with salt or cayenne, if necessary.

For the eggplant...

  • Heat up your grill.

  • Brush both sides of the eggplant slices lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

  • Grill 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Flip the eggplant and grill until somewhat soft in the center rather than white and hard, 3 minutes. Watch carefully.

  • Place the eggplant on a platter - let sit for 3 minutes to cook through a little longer.

  • Drizzle with dressing, feta and chopped herbs, serve immediately.

  • To serve room temp, place grilled eggplant slices on a cookie sheet right from the grill for roughly 3 minutes to continue to cook through. Then, place eggplant on cookie racks to cool without getting too mushy. When you're ready to serve, arrange on a platter and drizzle with dressing, feta and chopped herbs.

HEARTFUL RECIPE - One of our real food recipes that focuses on veggies, protein, healthy fats and/or healthy carbs and doesn't include gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, corn or peanuts. This one, though, does include feta. If you truly can't tolerate cow's milk, try goat cheese instead.

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