Tuesday, August 4, 2009

87. Grilled Eggplant with Cherry Tomato and Cilantro Vinaigrette

Date Cooked: July 31, 2009
Page: 162
Rating: B+

I’m living the week as a pseudo-bachelor. My wife is away with my eldest on a vacation in Florida and I am at home ‘relaxing’ with my youngest. This actually translates into attempting to accomplish as many home renovation projects as time and money allows. I also figured this was a good time to cook items from the book that my wife would probably not enjoy. Anything with tomatoes is very low on her list of enjoyable menu options. I’m not the biggest fan of tomatoes either, but I have been making a conscious effort to change that. This project has been a big help in that goal. I’m still not looking forward to the recipes containing anchovies. That is going to be a challenge.

Eggplant is not the first vegetable I would go to when looking for something to pair with… well anything. I have had this aversion to it for no good reason. Maybe as a child the name turned me off and since it was never a childhood staple I have had no reason to try it. Awhile back I made a stir fry with it and I enjoyed it. But I had yet to eat it as the star of a dish. I figured now was a good time to change that, especially since this recipe was made for the grill.

Prepping the eggplant was as simple as slicing it into thick rounds and brushing them with garlic, oregano and olive oil. The vinaigrette on the other hand required a little more work. The cherry tomatoes were quartered and then I diced a shallot and minced some garlic. I roughly chopped some cilantro and everything was tossed with some olive oil and lime juice. I let the vinaigrette rest while I prepared the rest of the dinner.

Now I am getting much better on the grill but I still have a lot to learn, especially timing. I placed the eggplant on the hot grill and closed the lid. I figured that they should take about 8 minutes and I should probably flip them at the 4 minute mark. I would like to point out that my grill has hot spots and I am not talking about areas that are warmer. I have spots on my grill that that approach molten metal temperatures. After 4 four minutes several pieces were glowing red, but of course other pieces were beautifully grilled. So I flipped them all over and moved the pieces away from the molten sections of my grill. I only let them go a few more minutes before removing and plating.

I poured the vinaigrette over the eggplant and served.

Rating: B+ I really enjoyed the flavors of this dish. I didn’t even mind the tomatoes in it. This could almost of had an A- rating except that the skin of the grilled eggplant was extremely tough and detracted from the smooth texture of the eggplant. The best I could describe it would be like eating a cupcake and then biting into a hidden piece of the cupcake paper cup. Next time I’ll skin the eggplant and I am surprised it didn’t mention it in the book… then again maybe it did. I think I will double check that.

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