Sunday, July 10, 2011

Easy Grilled Eggplant

I think eggplant has been given a bad rap for being the most underused vegetable.  Maybe it's because most people don't know what to do with the bulbous purple veggie.  But, surprisingly enough, it's one of my favorites.  It's best known for its use in French ratatouille and Italian eggplant parmigiana.  I had my first encounter at my Aunt's home.  She married into an Italian family and one of the relatives had brought over a huge casserole of eggplant parmigiana.  I was probably around 7 or 8, but, I swear, I could have devoured the whole thing!

I continued my love affair with eggplant and married into my own large Italian family.  My mother-in-law would fry slices in egg and flour, dip in sauce, and attempt to save it for dinner.  Alot would get eaten before anyone sat down for the meal.  If there was ever any leftover, you'd find it between bread, eaten as a sandwich.  Yum!

After years of cooking it that way, I've also experimented by roasting, cubing for pasta and soups, baking, frying and now grilling.  To salt or not to salt.  To soak or not to soak, first.  Eggplants can be slightly bitter, so I salted the slices first, let them sit for an hour, rinsed well and marinated before grilling.  So good!  This process not only helps with bitterness, but it will absorb less oil, which is a more healthful thing!

Marinade in a large container.  Lay the slices out (used one large eggplant) and in a 2 cup measuring cup add about 1 cup of olive oil, a handful of chopped basil, 1 Tbsp of minced garlic, a squeeze of fresh lemon or a Tbsp of vinegar, and a dash of red pepper flakes.  Pour over the eggplant and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour or two.  During that time arrange the slices (move around so that marinade is distributed evenly).  I drained the liquid out and re -poured it a few times, too.

On a medium heat grill, lay out the eggplant turning once after a few minutes.  I then placed a large piece of foil down onto the grill, arranged the eggplant on top, folded up the edges and used the rest of the marinade on top.  Close the grill and continue to cook until done.  I added fresh buffalo mozzarella at the last minute, but this is optional.  Great as a meal or with a meal and excellent as a sandwich!

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