I have a confession. I’ve never really loved eggplant. I don’t hate it, but I never choose it. I find it kind of squishy and a little bitter and mostly underwhelming. I will never order eggplant parmesan, and I find baba ganoush just plain weird.
I feel like they’re going to take away my Italo-phile card…
The great thing about this dish is that it’s super simple, but seems fancy, like you took a lot of time with it. And anything that has goat cheese, balsamic, and pine nuts is okay by me!
I won’t say that this dish totally changed my mind on eggplant or anything, but I really enjoyed it and it was cool to try preparing a new vegetable (which has been a theme lately, stay tuned for my kohlrabi efforts).
It’s a shame to waste this pretty of a purple on a weird vegetable.
Cut the eggplant into even slices. I went a little thick because I wanted to make sure they held up on the grill, but next time I’d go a little thinner since eggplant can be a little tough—and they were totally fine on the grill.
SO. The original recipe didn’t say anything about having to prep the eggplant, which made me very confused. Everything I’ve ever read or been told about eggplant (including by my Italian host mom, Giovanna) says you have to prep eggplant correctly or it will be nasty and bitter. I remember sitting with her while she carefully patted them dry before frying and layering them. So I went ahead and did that, just in case.
To prep it, salt each side of the eggplant and stack them on a plate or in a container. Leave them for at least half an hour, but I’d do an hour if you can swing it (mine were still a tiny bit tough and bitter). Then rinse the salt off each piece and pat dry with a flour sack (tea) towel or paper towels.
You can toast the pine nuts ahead of time, just put them in a little skillet for a couple minutes over medium heat. Shake them around once or twice so they don’t burn, and set aside.
Get your goat cheese out a little ahead of time as well, so it can soften. Then cut into little chunks. It really is better to use the log goat cheese for this instead of the “goat cheese crumbles”, which are drier and harder, and not nearly as delicious.
When your eggplant has been rinsed and patted dry, brush each side with olive oil or toss the whole lot in a bowl with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Also, heat your grill to medium-high.
Grill for about 4 minutes on each side, and make sure you get good grill marks on each side (don’t turn too soon!). Mine took more like 6-7 minutes on each side, but I have an electric grill so it loses heat badly when you open the lid and my slices were a little thicker.
Once they’re done, pull them off the grill and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle the basil (I didn’t have, so I omitted), pine nuts, and goat cheese over the top and drizzle the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and remaining oil over it.
Overall I loved the flavors of this dish, though eggplant still isn’t my favorite. One thing I will say is that it’s not nearly as good leftover, so if you’re making I’d make a batch just big enough to eat, or make it for a big group of something.
Grilled Eggplant with Goat Cheese, Balsamic, & Pine Nuts
- 1 giant eggplant
- ⅓ cup of fresh basil, chiffonaded
- 6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled [I’m a huge believer in using the log goat cheese for this instead of the crumbles, which are dry & flavorless comparatively]
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup of toasted pine nuts
- ½ teaspoon of fresh-ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon of fresh-ground salt
- Extra salt for “prepping” the eggplant
Prepare the eggplant ahead of time. [Note, the original recipe didn’t say to do this, but everything I’ve ever read or been told about eggplant says you have to.] Lightly salt each side of the eggplant and stack them on a plate or in a container. Leave for at least half an hour—I’d do an hour if you can swing it. Then rinse the salt off each and pat dry with a flour sack (tea) towel or paper towels.
Heat the grill to medium-high and brush 3 tablespoons of the oil over both sides of all the eggplant slices. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side, and make sure you get good grill marks on each side. Mine took more like 6-7 minutes on each side, but I have an electric grill so it loses heat badly when you open the lid.
Arrange the grilled eggplant on a serving platter. Sprinkle the basil (I didn’t have, so I omitted), pine nuts, and goat cheese over the top and drizzle the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and remaining oil over it.
Original recipe here