Start to Finish: 35 to 95 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Grilling eggplant on an indoor electric grill, such as a George Foreman grill, gets the job done in half the time of an outdoor grill, thanks to the ability to cook both sides of the eggplant at the same time. By keeping the seasonings simple, the flavor of the eggplant really shines through. Once you get the hang of grilling it, try using different toppings, herbs and spices to create a standout side dish worthy of serving at an upscale dinner party, but easy and fast enough for a rushed weeknight meal. This recipe is adapted from Food & Wine’s basic grilled eggplant recipe.
- 1 large eggplant (1 to 2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 to 2 minced cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley and/or basil (optional)
Rinse the eggplant and cut it into 1/2-inch planks or rounds.
Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Brush it over one side of the eggplant slices, topped with a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.
Place the eggplant with the oiled side facing down and brush the tops with the oil and vinegar mixture. Season that side with salt and pepper to taste.
Close the George Foreman grill and cook the eggplant for approximately three to four minutes, or until the eggplant is tender with visible grill marks.
Transfer the grilled eggplant to a serving platter and sprinkle the herbs over the top for a pop of fresh flavor and color.
To reduce the eggplant’s natural bitterness, sprinkle both sides of the slices with salt before grilling them. Add the salted eggplant slices to a strainer and allow the eggplant to drain for 30 to 90 minutes before rinsing the slices and patting them dry.
For an even more basic version of this dish, skip the garlic, herbs and balsamic vinegar. Simply drizzle olive oil on the eggplant slices, and season them with salt and pepper before grilling them. To jazz things up with more flavor:
- Use fresh lemon juice in place of the balsamic vinegar, and fresh oregano instead of the parsley and basil. Scatter the grilled eggplant with crumbled feta cheese for a zesty Greek-inspired side dish.
- Give the dish a Lebanese twist by combining 1 to 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt with freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste. Brush the mixture onto the eggplant after grilling it for approximately three minutes. Garnish the eggplant with chopped fresh mint.
- Place the grilled eggplant slices on a platter. Top one-third of the slices with a fresh slice of ripe tomato and a thin slice of fresh mozzarella and another slice of eggplant. Repeat the layering twice to make a stacked eggplant caprese. Drizzle the stacks with aged balsamic vinegar. Chiffonade fresh basil by cutting it into thin ribbons before scattering it over the eggplant stacks.
- Top each of the grilled eggplant planks with a tablespoon of hummus. Wrap the eggplant around the filling for a Mediterranean-inspired appetizer.
- Use the grilled eggplant slices in place of lasagna noodles to make an eggplant lasagna. Pour marinara in the bottom of a baking dish, top it with a few planks of grilled eggplant, some ricotta and mozzarella, more sauce and another few layers. Bake the dish for approximately 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the top is golden.