In Israel, eggplant is everywhere, in many forms, and is a national favorite. Here in America, it seems one either loves it or hates it. I'm in the latter camp and was happy to be able to partake of an eggplant dish almost every day when I was in Israel recently. I think my favorite is simple grilled eggplant, flavored with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. It is easy to make, low in calories and carbohydrates, and can be served as an appetizer or as a vegetable with an entrée. I actually prefer this at room temperature or cold, but it can be served hot as well. If you use the small Italian-style eggplants, the slices are just the right size for cooking and serving whole, which looks so pretty on a plate.
2 pounds small Italian eggplants (about 8 or 9)
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and stir. Let sit to infuse the olive oil with the flavors.
Wash and dry the eggplants, cut off the ends, and peel them a little bit, to your preference. (I like to eat the cooked peel, but too much is too tough, and the dark color looks so pretty when serving). Slice thinly lengthwise, making at least 4 slices from each eggplant. Heat an outdoor grill or use a grill pan on the stove pan.
Dip the eggplant slices in the olive oil mixture, covering both sides, and place on the hot grill. You can also brush the olive oil mixture onto the slices (both sides) before placing on the grill. To get the beautiful grill lines, avoid moving the eggplant until ready to turn. Let cook for a couple of minutes until the top looks and feels as if it's softening. Then turn to grill the other side. The slices are done when they are quite soft.
Serve immediately, with added salt and pepper to taste, or store in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Serve on a plate or in a bowl, and garnish with chopped parsley if desired (but certainly not necessary for taste).
This serves 4 as part of a group of salads as a first course or 2 as a side dish with an entrée.
Grilled Eggplant Slices