A savory side dish, from Wholesome Wave’s Chef Michel Nischan.
Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Yield: 6-8 portions
Eggplant halves drink up a good bit of extra-virgin olive oil here, before a gentle cook on the grill, becoming irresistibly custardy with deliciously smoky notes. It’s the perfect base for a fresh tomato and basil sauce, and a touch of melted cheese on top.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds small to medium globe eggplants, halved lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large ripe tomatoes
4 to 5 small to medium leaves fresh basil
3/4 cup freshly grated aged sheep or goat cheese (such as Pecorino Romano or Cyprus Goat Midnight Moon)
- Arrange eggplant halves in a single layer in a large casserole dish, cut-side down (use more than one dish, as needed). Once all eggplant are accounted for and have a place in the dish or dishes, remove them from the casserole/s, then fill the dishes with 1/2 to 1 inch oil. Sprinkle the oil generously with salt and pepper, then gently press the eggplant pieces into the dishes, cut-side down, and in a single layer. Let stand until the oil is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Season with salt on both sides, then arrange on paper towels to extract water, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop with basil.
- Prepare a grill for medium heat. Arrange eggplant halves on grill, skin-side down. Grill eggplant, without moving or otherwise disturbing (you don’t want to break the skin), until meat on neck end (the short / stem end) is firm-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Spoon chopped tomato mixture on top of eggplant halves. Continue grilling, until neck end of eggplants is tender, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover grill and cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute.
- Carefully transfer eggplants to a serving platter. Serve warm.