A simple yet delicious marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic makes for very flavorful and easy to make grilled eggplant.
I love eggplant! It's probably one of those foods that people feel quite strongly about - either really like or deeply dislike - and I definitely fall on the side of love. It has this unique taste and texture. It's almost "meaty." 🍆
In fact, back in the forties, eggplant was used in Israel to make faux chopped liver (food was rationed and there was hardly any meat available). My grandparents used to say it was surprisingly close to the real thing. This eggplant casserole, for example, is so substantial and filling that it can easily serve as a main course, and it often does in our house.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need six simple ingredients to make grilled eggplant. The exact measurements are in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Fresh eggplant: You don't need to peel it, but you can if you wish. Try to find a firm eggplant with smooth skin.
Olive oil: If you prefer an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocadi oil instead.
Balsamic vinegar: Adds a wonderful flavor and helps boost caramelization.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use or the dish could end up too salty.
Garlic powder: Make sure it's fresh. A stale spice can easily ruin a dish. I actually prefer garlic powder to fresh minced garlic. I feel that it better coats the eggplant.
How to grill an eggplant
This simple recipe relies on the flavor of the vegetable itself. The marinade - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic - merely highlights its wonderful flavor. The detailed instructions for making this recipe are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your first step is slicing the eggplant into rounds. Try to keep them about the same thickness.
2. Brush the slices with a tasty mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices.
3. Grill the slices until tender, about 5 minutes per side.
After you brush the eggplant slices with the marinade, you will have leftover marinade. Keep it, and brush it on the cooked slices.
How long to grill?
It's better to slightly overcook this dish than to undercook it. Though of course, you don't want the grilled eggplant to become mushy either!
In my dual-contact grill, I find that 5 minutes on the first side, then 2 more minutes on the second side are ideal. In a regular, non-dual-contact grill, you'll probably need to grill for about 5 minutes on each side
By the way, if you'd rather use the oven, you can bake the eggplant for 10 minutes per side in a 450 degree F oven.
Should I peel the eggplant?
I don't. I realize that the peel of mature eggplants can be slightly bitter. But I find that the marinade and the grilling take care of that. And leaving the skin on is so pretty! However, if you prefer, by all means, go ahead and peel it.
What to serve with grilled eggplant?
Grilled and broiled meats go really well with this tasty side dish. I often serve it with one of the following main dishes:
What about leftovers?
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for about 3 days. I don't reheat them. I enjoy them cold, just as I would enjoy antipasti. But if you prefer to reheat the leftovers, do so gently, in the microwave on 50% power.
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- 1 large eggplant, unpeeled (about 1 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat grill, or a grill pan, over medium-high heat. I like to use my George Foreman Grill when making this recipe.
- Trim the eggplant edges and slice crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds. You should get about 12 rounds out of a large eggplant.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Brush the eggplant rounds with the mixture, on both sides. Set aside any remaining sauce.
- Grill the eggplant slices until golden brown and fork-tender, about 5 minutes on each side. In my George Foreman grill, I grill 5 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the second side.
- Brush the grilled eggplant slices with the remaining marinade and serve.