This is a delicious side dish or a satisfying vegetarian main course. Serves 4
These strange, beautiful, glossy purple vegetables are truly unique. An eggplant’s taste is particularly hard to pinpoint, other than a satisfyingly sweet bitterness. Its texture is like a chameleon and can range from gooey to spongy to slippery. But it is one vegetable that has so much potential so if you work with it properly you’ll learn to love it.
1 large eggplant, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1-inch thick pieces.
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 10 ounces), halved
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
1. Generously season eggplant slices with salt. Place vertically in a colander, overlapping them. Let stand 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry. (*Eggplants contain a lot of moisture, which can ruin any dish. The trick to not having a bad eggplant dish is to prep eggplants in advance, by sweating and draining its extra water content.)
2. Preheat grill to medium high. Liberally brush cut sides of eggplant with oil. Grill, turning once, until tender, about 4 minutes a side. Or if you prefer you can roast the eggplant.
Mix tomatoes, pine nuts, feta, red pepper flakes and oil. Season with salt. Spoon over eggplant and top with torn basil leaves.
*Every Italian grandma knows that you must remove excess water from an eggplant – they contain a lot of extra moisture. Doing so not only dramatically reduces unwanted wateriness in a dish, but it also enhances the true essence of the taste. By sweating out the additional moisture, you also remove some of that extra bitterness taste. This leaves the eggplant tasting more sweet and pure.
Health Benefits: In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplants contain important phytonutrients, rich in phenolic antioxidant compounds.
Do you have a favourite eggplant dish?