Episode 30 Grilled Eggplant for A Flexitarian Feast
It's a nightshade to remember
Grilled Eggplant has been a staple on my grilling rotation for a long time. Easy, quick, and tasty, I always use the Italian Globe variety that's most commonly available. I view eggplant in the same category as mushrooms as a meat substitute. The firm texture and umami flavor fits the bill for near meat when charred and flavored with robust herbs and seasonings.
Grilled quickly, the flesh will stay firm, similar to meat. It can also be cubed and cooked like kebobs too. Drizzled with olive oil and smattered with fresh herbs, it's a tiny taste of summer in your mouth. With the spongy texture, it can absorb flavors almost like tofu can.
It's a berry by definition and related to the tomato and potato. With a multicultural heritage, the origins are believed to be in India. Asia and the Middle East also embrace eggplant and you will find it in countless dishes there. In season you can find all sorts of varieties at the farmer's markets.
Salt or no salt?
Back in the old days, we used to have to sprinkle salt on eggplant and let it sit for 10 minutes and then turn it over and repeat. The theory of this step was to draw the bitterness out. In recent years I have been told by a few fellow eggplant cooks that I no longer need to do that because things have changed.
I started researching and found this on the web from myrecipes.com which made the most sense to me. I have stopped salting it and have not noticed a difference when grilling or cooking eggplant.
"Whenever added moisture might impact the final dish’s outcome, it’s a good idea to salt for a bit. Drawing out even a bit of moisture will help the eggplant caramelize and cook without worrying about moisture leaching out and steaming the food. Of course, you can salt any eggplant you want."
Ingredients used in this dish
Eggplant- I used the Italian purple Globe variety found at my local supermarket. When buying make sure there are no soft spots. Pick the biggest, brightest one you can find.
Olive Oil-Plain or flavored evoo does the trick here.
Soy Sauce- I used low sodium, you can use regular if that works for you.
Balsamic Vinegar- Table balsamic will be great, you don't want something with too much sugar in it as it will burn
Herbs de Provence- This will give this dish a smokey, herby taste as it cooks.
BBQ sauce- This is for a bit of flavor, it will be diluted with water so it can be any style you like.
Granulated garlic- I prefer granulated however you could use garlic powder or real garlic as a stand-in.
Leave the skin on as it will help keep the eggplant together while cooking.
Italian Seasonings will work just fine if you do not have herbs de Provence
If you are using small skinny eggplants, slice them in half longways instead of horizontally.
Feel free to add additional seasoning, I love to add cajun seasoning or an all-purpose grilling seasoning to the mix.
This dish tastes great cold and can be used as a sandwich filling or on top of a salad.
A nice robust red zinfandel would pair nicely with this dish.
Eggplant would make a great muffuletta sandwich filling too.
Buy 2 eggplants and throw one on the grill whole and cook until soft to make Baba Ganoush, a middle eastern dip with at another time.
To print this recipe, click here
Dry Italian seasoning can be substituted for Herbs de Provence.
Serving size: 4-6
1 large eggplant
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup water
Slice eggplant 1 inch thick and place in a Ziploc bag. Pour olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, herbs de Provence, and garlic in the bag. Mix the barbecue sauce and water together and add to the eggplant. Marinate up to 3 hours in the fridge before cooking. Grill over a hot fire, turning continually, charring the eggplant to your likeness. Eggplant will soften when it's off the grill as it sits.
Possibilities are endless