Friday, September 06, 2013

Spicy Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad Recipe with Thai Flavors (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Meatless)

All I'm saying is give grilled eggplant a chance, because this Spicy Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad Recipe with Thai Flavors is amazing!

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites, and I'm hoping this amazing Spicy Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad with Thai Flavors might convince some eggplant-reluctant people to try grilled eggplant!)

Recently I made this very tasty Spicy Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad with my nephew Jake.  We both loved the Thai flavors in the dressing, and absolutely devoured the salad, with both of us loving the grilled eggplant with slightly charred skin.  Then over the next couple of days I told various people about this new favorite salad, and one after the other they told me "I don't like eggplant."  And I patiently explained to each person how I never liked eggplant either, until I tried grilled eggplant.

So if you like Thai flavors, I'm urging you to be adventurous and give grilled eggplant a chance.  Of course you could make the salad with all zucchini if you insist, but Jake and I both thought the grilled eggplant was so spectacular in this that next time I'd probably skip the zucchini and use all eggplant.

I used the long skinny Japanese eggplants that are growing in my garden for this, and I'd recommend using some kind of Asian Eggplant, since they work so well on the grill.  This type of eggplant variety doesn't need to be peeled or salted before cooking, and they're also great for stir-fried dishes with eggplant.  This recipe was slightly adapted from one I found in Vegetables Every Day, a book I've used over and over for interesting ways to cook vegetables.

Cut off the ends of the eggplant and zucchini, then cut into lengthwise pieces.  Brush all sides with peanut or grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper.

Here's the eggplant and zucchini on my well-used grill.  I wanted to get grill marks on two sides, so I put a flat side down and then watched for grill marks to appear.

When the first side had nice grill marks, we flipped the veggies to the other flat side.  As you can see, the zucchini in the front are taking longer to cook than the eggplants.

After 15 minutes the eggplant was all nicely charred, but we left the zucchini on for another 5 minutes.  You also might cut the zucchini a little thinner than the eggplant.

Let zucchini and eggplant pieces cool on a cutting board.

While the vegetables cooled, I mixed the spicy and colorful dressing.  When the vegetables were cool, I cut them crosswise into strips and put them in a bowl to marinate in a couple of tablespoons of the dressing.  (Sorry, forgot to take a photo of that step.)

Chop the cilantro and slice the green onions.  (If you're a cilantro hater I would use mint or Thai basil.)

Then mix in the green onions and cilantro with a bit more dressing.  (You probably won't use all the dressing.  I served it on the side to dip pieces of eggplant or zucchini into.)

Top each serving of salad with a couple of spoonfuls of chopped peanuts and serve.

Spicy Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad with Thai Flavors
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe adapted from Vegetables Every Day.)

1 1/2 lbs. Asian eggplant, ends trimmed and cut lengthwise
1 or 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into lengthwise strips (I cut the zucchini into sixths lengthwise)
(you could also use 2 lbs of eggplant or 2 lbs. of zucchini)
grapeseed or peanut oil for brushing vegetables and grill
salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning vegetables
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (or more) chopped cilantro, mint, or Thai basil
1/4 cup chopped peanuts 

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T + 1 tsp. fish sauce (I like Three Crabs Fish Sauce)
2 tsp. Sriracha Sauce (or less; this was spicy but not unbearable for me)
1 tsp. sugar, Splenda, or Stevia In the Raw Granulated Sweetener (use Splenda or Stevia for South Beach Diet)
2 tsp. grapeseed or peanut oil

Brush grill grates with grapeseed or peanut oil, then preheat grill to medium-high.  (You can only hold your hand there for a couple of seconds at that heat.)  Wash and dry eggplant and zucchini, trim ends, and cut into lengthwise strips.  Brush vegetables with oil and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Lay strips on the hot grill, flesh side down and cook about 5-7 minutes or until grill marks appear.  Turn vegetables and cook until that side has nice grill marks, about 5-7 minutes more.  Zucchini may take slightly longer than eggplant, but grill all vegetables until they are nicely charred and cooked through.

As they are done remove the vegetables to a cutting board and let them cool to room temperature.  While veggies cool, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, Sriracha Sauce, sweetener of your choice, and oil.  When vegetables have cooled, cut them into short crosswise pieces, toss with a few tablespoons of the dressing, and let them marinate while you finish prepping other ingredients.

Slice the green onions into thin strips and chop the cilantro, mint, or Thai basil.  Chop peanuts.  Stir green onions and herbs into the salad and add more dressing until the salad is as wet as you'd like it.  (You may not need all the dressing; save to use as a dipping sauce at the table.)  Serve salad in individual bowls, topped with a few spoonfuls of chopped peanuts.  

This kept reasonably well overnight in the fridge, but it was best freshly made.  I think the dressing would be good on many kinds of other grilled vegetables like peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, or winter squash.

South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
Using Splenda or Stevia for the sweetener makes this a perfect salad for any phase of the  South Beach Diet or any type of low-carb eating plan.  (Even if you used sugar, there isn't much sugar in this dish.)  I would serve this with any type of grilled chicken, fish, or meat.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

Ten More Tasty Ways to Give Eggplant a Chance:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Spicy Grilled Eggplant with Red Pepper, Parsley, and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen

Sichuan Eggplant from Appetite for China

Grilled Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta, and Two Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Punjabi Eggplant with Potatoes from The Perfect Pantry

Pan-Fried White Eggplant with Onion, Caper, and Herb Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Cal Hmong Spicy Eggplant from Viet World Kitchen

Garlic-Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash from Kalyn's Kitchen

Japanese Country-Style Stewed Eggplant from Just Hungry

Sichuan Eggplant from Simply Recipes

Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry from eCurry

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. I can't make this fast enough. Really, flavors and fresh grilled veggies sounds fantastic, Kalyn!

  2. Ever since discovering the Japanese eggplant, which are virtually seedless, I've been a huge fan of eggplant. The grilling gives it such great flavor, smoky and not mushy (and I think it's the mushy that people who say they don't like eggplant are responding to). I second your idea -- give grilled eggplant a chance!

  3. Great pictorial which has left me salivating for these veggies!

  4. HI Kalyn, oh my...this looks amazing! I'm going to give this a go soon!!!

  5. Dara, thanks. We loved it!

    Lydia, I agree, the Japanese eggplants are part of my new-found appreciation for eggplant. Perfect for the grill.

    Thanks Maris!

    Roz, hope you enjoy it.

  6. This sounds fantastic, have you tried making it with Thai basil too?

  7. Megan, I've only made it with cilantro, but I have no doubt that it would be good with mint or Thai basil as well. (I wish I had Thai basil and I'd definitely try it that way.)

  8. This looks awesome! I love grilled eggplants. I must try this recipe...soon...

  9. Huge eggplant LOVER right here! And zucchini ain't so bad either :P I love the sound of this dressing to spruce them up!

  10. HUH... Intresting. I am not at all a fan of the skin of an egg plant. But, wasn't it mushy when you cut into it. When I grill egg plant, I scrape the meat from the skin and make a dip. I must over cook it.

    BTW, beautiful grill marks!

  11. It sounds like a dish my family would love. Now to find some Asian eggplant.

  12. Sarah and Joanne, fun hearing from some eggplant fans!

    Dave, the skin of Asian eggplants is thinner than that of larger ones, and is very tasty when they're grilled. They aren't mushy if you don't overcook them.

    Barbara, wish I had more and I'd bring you some.

  13. I need to give eggplant a second chance I think. Maybe I've never had it fresh or I've picked the wrong ones out of the bunch OR maybe I just needed your recipe!!

  14. Becky, I'm sure you would like this! Wish I had more eggplant and I'd give you some.

  15. This has got to be the most beautiful eggplant dish ever. I would follow your recipe page, if only to look at the fantastic pictures. You've lost your calling--should be a cookbook author. Thanks.

  16. Thanks for that nice feedback. Many people are surprised that I have no ambitions to write a cookbook, but I do plan to keep blogging for a long time.

  17. Love the Thai flavors! Great recipe for this time of year.

  18. Thanks Maria, I loved the dressing!

  19. I can eat anything eggplant and I think grilling elevates the flavors.. ahh the smoky aroma of eggplants. Kalyn love the dressing here, esp the use of Sriracha and also the peanut topping.

    and thanks for adding mine:)

  20. Soma, my pleasure! Glad you liked this idea.

  21. Your pictures are great. I can't wait to make this dish very soon!!

  22. I just bookmarked this recipe- it looks DELICIOUS. You had me at grilled zucchini. :) Thanks for sharing!


  23. We made this the day after you posted the recipe and served it warm over brown rice. I loved it - but squirted some extra sriracha on it (love that stuff).

    Thanks, Kalyn. I've been beaching it for 15 months and lost 70 pounds with your help.

  24. Rebecki, that is fantastic! So glad to hear about your success.

  25. Wow, this was AMAZING. I had to make some adjustments, as I have no grill and don't like zucchini, so I broiled half inch eggplant disks until browned and tossed in some spinach and tomatoes. Next time I'll broil some portobella mushrooms with the eggplant. Tasty, filling and great for work lunches. Thanks for another fantastic recipe!

    Nurse Jen in NYC

  26. Jen, so glad you liked it, and what a great idea to broil the eggplant.

  27. I would love to make this dish for my daughter. She is a vegetarian and so I can't use fish sauce. What should I use as a substitute?

    I'm a big fan of your blog. I love your recipes!!

  28. So glad you have been enjoying the blog. I'm not sure what would be a vegetarian substitute for fish sauce; have you tried googling it?

  29. I used to be one of those "not crazy about eggplant" people, but I love the seedless Japanese eggplant. Grilling it with Thai flavors is inspired!

  30. Hi Kaylyn,

    First, let me just say that I actually planned my latest shopping list around many of your blog recipes! I haven't been on South Beach for many years but I still love the idea of eating veggies, fruit, lean meat, healthy grains.

    Now, I went shopping as I said. I bought lots of zucchini and my first Japanese eggplant. I love Italian but it makes my tongue tingle a little. I hear Japanese eggplants are the solution for people like me.

    I don't have a grill so I'm just going to roast them in my oven with some peanut oil that I did have. I'm also going to add a little chicken to this. Finally, I'm topping this with some premade Thai peanut sauce I have on hand. Serving this with Jasmine rice. This is my dinner tonight. Can't wait!

  31. Terrah, that definitely sounds good to me!

  32. Oh, it came out SO GOOD....

    The Japanese eggplant roasted so sweet and silky! The only thing is next time, I'll start roasting the zucchini first, as it's more hearty in texture. But all of those flavor married together. Along with the aroma of jasmine rice, my apartment smelled like a restaurant!

    I couldn't help thinking to myself that if I'd used brown rice, the meal would have been TOTALLY SB phase two, lol.

  33. Terrah, you can also use Uncle Ben's Converted rice (white or brown) which is one of the most low-glycemic types of rice, due to the converting process. I use it a lot when I don't want brown rice.


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