I had the hugest eggplant, perhaps ever, in my refrigerator just waiting for the right moment to be introduced to the grill. This morning, in anticipation of an afternoon spent poolside in the Berkshires, turned out to be the perfect time to get those two together. I don’t know if you grill eggplant, but you should. I do know that you know, I have no formal training in cooking (unless you count high school home-ec courses, which is what we called them in the 80’s) but, I’ve learned that eggplant likes to be cooked at a fairly high temperature and grilling releases a lot of pent up flavor and moisture in this beautiful, but sometimes misunderstood, vegetable.
When I roasted those tomatoes last week I didn’t consider tossing the remaining flavored olive oil knowing it would be put to good use in a yet unimagined way. A couple of tablespoons of it tossed with chunks of mozzarella, grape tomatoes and corn shaved off the cob, made a perfect light dinner the other night. I still had about 1/3 of a cup of it left so I decided to use it to baste my eggplant. I sliced the eggplant fairly thick, perhaps 1/2″ to 3/4,” and placed it dry (no basting yet) on a fairly hot grill – 400 degrees. I grilled both sides dry for about 4 minutes and then brushed the tops lightly with the rosemary-garlic olive oil, grilling another 3 minutes on each side. Maybe I turned them another time, I kind of lost track in my morning pre-coffee fog. It really isn’t important – cook them until they are a softness that you like, keeping in mind that you may want to assemble them into something that requires additional cooking (pizza topping, warm napoleon with goat cheese and roasted red peppers) and wouldn’t want them to be mushy. Unless you like your eggplant that way, of course.
After I placed my circles of eggplant love on a platter, I thought about all the different ways they could be enjoyed…chopped with other grilled vegetables and rolled in tortillas, layered with pesto, grilled zucchini and mozzarella in a tower of summer delight, smeared with hummus and tahini and stuffed into warm pita bread with some feta, sliced on a salad with olives and lemon, topped with slices of tomatoes and mozzarella and then broiled for a completely easy bastardized eggplant parmigiana… Get yourself an eggplant and get inspired. And don’t forget to share!