Easy Grilled Eggplant

Just like it says. Easy. Part of the key to “easy” is selecting the longer, narrower eggplants such as Japanese, Chinese, or the longer “Italian” eggplants. These cut into shapes that lend themselves to skewering readily and have tender skins.

Using orange juice, lemon juice, or wine to marinate adds big flavor, and if you use an atomizer or spray bottle for the oil you get great results. The spray evenly coats the eggplant with just enough oil so they don’t stick, but are not soggy. The garlic powder may seem a heresy, but it gets the flavor on and won’t burn the way minced fresh garlic will. If you want, chop garlic and infuse the liquid you use for a while first before straining out the garlic bits. You can cut the eggplant into flat slices or into chunks, your choice.

INGREDIENTS:

1½-2 pounds Japanese, Chinese, or long Italian eggplant
Juice of 1 orange, or 2 Meyer lemons, or 1/2 cup white wine
Garlic powder-around 1 teaspoon
Olive oil as needed
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs-think oregano, marjoram, thyme, or rosemary, or a combination of the above. If using rosemary alone, use a little less and do not chop it much as it is more potent than the other herbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Special Equipment:
Flat steel skewers or bamboo skewers soaked in water, 2 skewers per group if eggplant to prevent spinning.

METHOD:

Decide if you want flat slices (great for including in things like sandwiches) or chunks. For slices, cut the eggplant on an angle into ½ inch thick slices. For chunks, cut at an angle and rotate the eggplant a quarter turn every cut.

Skewer the eggplant, and drizzle with the liquid of your choice. Sprinkle with the garlic, and then spray on the oil evenly over all the eggplant. Coat with the herbs, and allow to marinate for a half our or more.

When ready to cook, heat the grill, and season the eggplant with salt and pepper.

Grill over direct heat, turning the skewers to prevent burning, until eggplant is tender.

Remove from skewers and serve hot, room temperature, or cool with a dressing.

Chef’s Notes and Tips:

  • Serve this eggplant with dipping sauces such as pomegranate molasses with orange juice and mint, or tzatsiki, or salsa Romesco.
  • Allow to cool and dress with a mildly sweet vinaigrette as an antipasto or mezze.
  • The slices make for nice sandwiches with cool slices of tomato, basil leaves, and slices of provolone or mozzarella.

YIELD: Serves 4

SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen

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