|All I am saying is give grilled eggplant a chance!|
About a week ago 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." I 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.
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.)
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.)
(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
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 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-glycemic 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.
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
Grilled Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta, and Two Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pan-Fried White Eggplant with Onion, Caper, and Herb Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Garlic-Lover's Vegetable Stir Fry with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sichuan Eggplant from Appetite for China
Slow Cooker Punjabi Eggplant with Potatoes from The Perfect Pantry
Japanese Country-Style Stewed Eggplant from Just Hungry
Low-Cal Hmong Spicy Eggplant from Viet World Kitchen
Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry from eCurry
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)