Eggplants are a hard vegetable to like – not particularly due to it’s taste, which is fairly mild, but due to it’s texture when cooked. Leaving the skin on helps the eggplant retain it’s form while cooking, but the skin can turn out tough if not treated properly, and cooking eggplant without its skin leaves you with varying levels of slimy, mush. Personally, I have found that grilling the entire eggplant, skin and all, until the flesh obtains an almost buttery consistency is the best way to go. It’s easy, and also adds a delicate smokiness to the overall flavor.
There was a small Italian restaurant in Santa Cruz, Bolivia that served the best marinated eggplant. Seeing as I was a 7-10 year old at the time, with no true appreciation for vegetables, the fact that this marinated eggplant has made itself a permanent spot in my food memory is a monumental effigy to the epicness of this eggplant dish. While I have not been able to fully recreate it, the recipe below is a step in the right direction.
- 1 Eggplant
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 cloves minced Garlic (if you find the taste of raw garlic to be to strong, sauté it quickly before adding it to the marinade)
- Salt and Pepper
- Crostini for serving
- Grill entire eggplant including the skin. You want to almost char the eggplants skin, and make sure your eggplant is cook all of the way though. When you finally end up peeling your eggplant you want its flesh to almost fall apart on its own. Depending on the heat of your grill it can take almost 20 minutes to make sure your eggplant is cooked all of the way through.
- Remove your eggplant from the heat, and allow it to cool enough for you to peel and break apart into bitesized pieces.
- While your eggplant is cooling, place the balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan over moderate heat. Reduce the liquid content of your balsamic vinegar by about half. The balsamic vinegar found in most grocery stores is severely watered down. A balsamic reduction like this one can save you some money while deepening the rich balsamic flavors.
- Marinate the grilled eggplant in the balsamic reduction, minced garlic, and olive oil.
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Serve on fresh crostini, or scoop and eat as you go.