I think nobody who doesn’t know me already is ever going to find this recipe. There’s 1 million and 970 thousand hits for “grilled eggplants” on Google. With more than 2 million people out there who can grill eggplants this is probably going to be slightly redundant.
The thing is, I did not grow up with grilled eggplants. I have only learned how to make them in relatively recent times.
My mum – as every good Sicilian – only used fried eggplants. She put those juicy slabs on pasta and parmigiana , smothered in thick tomato sauce and sprinkles of fragrant basil. Heavenly, but with the inconvenient characteristic of migrating directly to the hips to accentuate unwanted rotundity.
On the other hand, the world is full of badly grilled eggplants. Have you ever returned from the BBQ/grill with those stripey bitter shoe-soles trying to decide if they were suitable for human consumption?
Did you swear you’ll never make them again?
Try this. It’s foolproof, smoke-free 🙂 and tastes lovely and light.
- 1 eggplant / aubergine
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
First of all, please make sure to use plump, fresh eggplants in season. Winter ghosts will not do.
As for cooking, best results are obviously obtained with a charcoal/wood BBQ, but a stove-top cast iron grill is a valid alternative and much faster.
While your cooking implement is heating up, peel and cut eggplants crosswise into 3-4 mm (1/10 inch) thick slices. Transfer in a plate making no more than two layers. Place the olive oil, garlic and lemon juice in shallow bowl to make a marinade. Add some chopped basil or parsley if you like.
Here comes the first surprise. Pop them in the microwave for 1-2 min until they just start getting moist and tender.
And the second surprise. Grill the slices without oiling them, you’ll have no smoke.
As soon as the slices are cooked through and slightly charred transfer them in the marinade and covered so they will infuse.
If you have time, prepare them a couple of hours in advance and serve at room temperature . You can also serve them sooner but let them cool off a little. Season with salt just before serving.
Serves 2-3 as a side dish.
PS. In contrast to common – but seemingly unfounded – lore abut nightshades, “eggplant is a healthy vegetable” says Helen Nichols in “27 science-based healt benefits of eggplant“.