Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grilled Eggplant with Feta and Herb Vinaigrette





I made this eggplant salad over the summer and was amazed at how the dish became transformed over a few hours as the dressing was absorbed. The combination of the feta, mint and cilantro adding a wonderful fresh note to the smokiness of the grilled eggplant. The added bonus was that I had made it earlier in the day, so I was able to go for a swim, read a chapter or two of my book and doze a little in the sun. All I needed to do for dinner was stick the salmon on the 'barbie' and trot out my lovely grilled eggplant.


Grilled Eggplant with Feta and Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Vinaigrette:
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Maldon salt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, very finely diced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin seed, lightly toasted and ground in a spice grinder
Pinch of cayenne

Eggplant: 
1 large globe eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Maldon salt
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Make the vinaigrette: with a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and a pinch of salt to a paste. Combine the garlic paste and 1 tbsp of the lemon juice in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Combine the shallot with the remaining 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt in another small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk the olive oil, cumin, and cayenne into the garlic mixture. Season to taste with salt or cayenne, if necessary.

Grill the eggplant: Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt. Grill until golden-brown grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the eggplant and grill until tender and well marked on the second sides, 3 to 4 minutes more.

Top grilled eggplant slices with the shallots, feta, and herbs. Whisk the vinaigrette and drizzle it on top. Let sit covered 1-2 hours. Serve immediately.