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This recipe attempts to solve a couple of eggplant problems: excessive moisture and an unpleasant texture best described as “spongy.” Grilling (vs. other cooking methods) itself solves the moisture by letting it all drip away. To avoid sponginess we are slicing into 1/4″ slices.
And it was half successful.
Despite achieving some seriously impressive consistency with my 1/4″ eggplant slices, they did end up a bit spongy, leathery, and dry. I’m not sure what the fix is; I brushed them with garlic oil which was immediately absorbed and didn’t seem to preserve moisture. Maybe more olive oil? Maybe brushing it on immediately before cooking?
However, the sauce saved the day. Oh yum is it good. A little garlic oil, greek yogurt, fresh mint, lemon juice and zest and cumin come make a bright, tangy and interesting topping for what, in the end, were vaguely eggplant-flavored coasters. Instead of the whole-milk yogurt called for I used the 2% I had on hand and honestly I think you could use any kind. But don’t skip the mint, it’s magical.
Although our quest for non-spongy eggplant must continue, these were absolutely delicious the next day, wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Grilled Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce from Master of the Grill
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 2 pounds eggplants, slice into 1/4" thick rounds
- Microwave oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in bowl until garlic is golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Strain oil through fine-mesh strainer into clean bowl; reserve oil and crispy garlic mixture separately.
- Combine 1 tablespoon strained garlic oil, yogurt, mint, lemon zest and juice, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl; set aside. Brush eggplant thoroughly with remaining garlic oil and season with salt and pepper.
- FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (4-1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
- FOR A GAS GRILL: turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Place half of eggplant on grill. Cook (covered if using gas), turning as needed, until browned and tender, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to platter and repeat with remaining eggplant. Before serving, drizzle with yogurt sauce and sprinkle with crispy garlic mixture.
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