Grilled Eggplant

Grilled vegetablesI get some interesting reactions when I talk about eggplant. It seems people either love it or hate it. I myself have had delicious foods made with eggplant, especially living in the Middle East and Boston with its rich Italian influence. But after years of cooking with eggplant, I can understand why many people dislike it. Depending on how it is cooked, eggplant can have a mushy, unappealing texture, and can be quite bitter. These mistakes are easily rectifiable. Grilled eggplant, especially when cut thinner than the standard 1/2 inch wide has a delicious, crisp outside. If it is cut in 1/4 inch (or less) thick slices the inner mushiness is just the right amount to complement the outer texture and taste. As for the bitterness, it's not really a problem when in season (late summer, early fall). But even then I throw some salt on the sliced eggplant and let the bitter juices drain for about an hour. You rinse the salt off after its drained, but the salt pulls out the extra moisture and helps prevent the eggplant from being soggy during the grilling. Brush slices of eggplant with olive oil and grill them with balsamic vinegar until golden brown with grill marks and, Voila! - they're done and delicious. Enjoy on sandwiches, in salads, or layered with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic vinaigrette. Replace the noodles in your lasagna recipe with slices of eggplant cut lengthwise, or use rolled up with a filling. I also love them on the side served with other grilled vegetables. They are delicious hot but just as good at room temperature and for leftovers the next day. Yum, it's time to get grilling!            
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Ingredients

2 purple eggplant, sliced in rounds or lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick 1 tbsp course salt 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil 1 -2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional) pepper to taste

Directions

1) Choose firm purple eggplants that are on the medium to smaller size so the skin isn't tough. I love the flavor of the round, purple Sicilian ones, too. Cut the ends off and slice in rounds or lengthwise, in whatever thickness you like. The thinner they are cut, the easier they are to burn. I like mine cut on thinner side - about 1/4 inch thick - but go thicker if you wish. Season the slices with 2 tablespoons salt and place them into a colander. Let the eggplant drain for about one hour, then rinse and dry it off with paper towels. Brush slices of eggplant with olive oil and and/or balsamic vinegar. Grill over medium-high heat until golden brown, with grill marks. Enjoy!