So excited this week to harvest eggplant from our garden! Eggplant has a mild taste, and has endless potential in cooking! Rather than using it to make something like eggplant parmesan, which contains strong tomato, breadcrumb and cheese taste that can overpower the taste of the eggplant, let’s try a dish that focuses solely on the delicious eggplant taste. This grilled eggplant could not be easier to make, all you need is a grill and some olive oil.
There are many different varieties of eggplant, and honestly I cannot say I like one more than others, This is a vegetable I do tend to peel, as the skin can be thick and chewy in texture. But the skin is totally edible and has good fiber and antioxidants. I find if the pieces are small, such as in a stir-fry, the skin is fine to leave on. But for this recipe, we will peel the eggplant.
As long as the eggplant is fresh, it is easy to peel. When the eggplant develops soft areas, the skin can become mottled and it can be quite difficult to peel. Try to select a firm eggplant with smooth looking skin and no soft areas.
You can see the difference in this picture between the Japanese and American eggplant. The American pieces are seedier and the Japanese ones, less so. Try to maintain similar thickness when slicing the eggplant, to allow for more even cooking. Some people then choose to salt the eggplant, in an effort to “bring out the bitter taste”. I have never found eggplant bitter, only delicious, so I skip this step. Remember, the goal here is to prepare whole food for yourself and your family to eat, using as few steps as possible.
After slicing the eggplant, use a silicone brush to brush each slice with olive oil. Do not drizzle the eggplant with oil, rather use a brush so that it is coated evenly. Eggplant is perhaps one of the most readily porous vegetables, so it absorbs any oil or moisture quickly and all in one spot. What we are aiming for here is an even coating. (Extra tip: silicone brushes are much easier to clean than other types)
Brush one side before placing the slices on the grill, then brush other side and grill until you see nice brown grill marks. Finally flip and complete grilling. The grill should be about 400 degrees, and the eggplant should be soft but not overly mushy. The whole cooking time is probably around 10-15 minutes, depending upon your grill.
I prepared this for my father-in-law’s 86th birthday dinner, along with baked salmon with a lemon-artichoke tapenade, a corn relish with feta cheese, and fresh tomato and basil salad from our garden. Eggplant is also delicious with chicken shrimp, pork or beef, as well as many types of cheeses and tomatoes.
Hope this post inspires someone out there to prepare a wonderful summer meal for their families! At the Doylestown Weight Loss Center, we are shedding the pounds, reprogramming our taste buds and making ourselves feel and look better each day. Call us if you’d like to learn more: (215) 345-4545
-Laura Fitzpatrick, M.D.