I can’t understand why some people don’t like eggplants. My son is one of them eggplant-haters! He has never eaten one and probably will never eat one. I just don’t understand how he can dislike something without ever even trying it. He says it’s a texture thing – he doesn’t like mushy foods. I think he’s missing out on something great but then that is his loss. I love eggplants of all shapes, sizes and colors. I buy the regular kind (available everywhere in the US), or the Japanese kind (long lighter purple and softer than the regular kind), the Italian kind (smaller in size and often a tiny bit sweeter), the Thai kind (small green ones) and of course the Indian kind (small purple ones that look like purple eggs with a green tail). I cook them in various ways too – I bake them, deep-fry them, stir fry them and of course I grill them. My all-time favorite eggplant dishes are the Middle Eastern Baba Ganoush or the Indian Bharta. In both these preparations, I char the outside skin of the eggplant by first placing it on an open flame and then baking it in the oven to cook it all the way through. The charring gives the eggplant a smoky flavor that is simply out of this world! Anyway, today I made a grilled eggplant salad. I would have loved to fry the slices of eggplant but the problem is that eggplants soak up a lot of oil in the frying process and I am trying to eat only healthy foods. So to control the fat content in the dish, I resorted to grilling them on a cast iron griddle. This experiment worked well because the grill marks on the eggplant made the salad very beautiful and also the grill charred a bit of the flesh of the eggplant and made it taste really good. I added fresh ripe tomatoes and crumbled a little bit of goat cheese on top. I also drizzled bit of pomegranate syrup on top of the salad but if you can’t find pomegranate syrup (usually available at Middle Eastern grocery stores), you can replace it with a little bit of good quality dark Balsamic Vinegar and a bit of honey added to it!
1. One large eggplant
2. 15-20 ripe grape tomatoes (I used red and yellow tomatoes)
3. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4. 1 teaspoon of good quality sea salt
5. ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes (if you don’t like it spicy, skip this ingredient)
6. One red Serrano Chili (again, if you don’t like it spicy, skip this ingredient)
7. 2-3 ounces of goat cheese
8. 1.5 tablespoons of Pomegranate syrup (or Balsamic vinegar and honey mixture)
1. Heat a cast iron griddle on medium heat.
6. On a second burner, heat a medium sized nonstick pan. Since the eggplant slices will not cook all the way through on the griddle, I place them off the griddle and place them on a nonstick pan to cook them for another 4-5 minutes. The griddle gives them really good grill marks but the process of cooking them completely has to be finished on a nonstick pan. You can baste them with a little bit of olive oil while they are on the nonstick pan.
7. When all the slices of the eggplant are first grilled on a griddle and then cooked on a nonstick pan, place them on a serving platter.
8. Sprinkle some coarse salt and red pepper flakes on the cooked eggplant slices.
9. Chop the Serrano chili in small pieces (after removing the seeds and the veins) and sprinkle the finely chopped pieces over the eggplant slices.
11. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the whole serving platter.