Another fabulous summer veggie recipe for you! The name Grilled Eggplant & Fresh Tomato Salad does not quite do this recipe justice, but it looked a bit excessive to write Grilled Eggplant, Fresh Cherry Tomato, Feta, Balsamic and Mint Salad. That's what this salad is: those five ingredients tossed together create an exceptionally flavorful and fresh summer side dish. This is a perfect recipe to try if you are already planning to grill. The eggplant only grills for a few minutes on each side, so it can easily share the flame with your other grillables.
I adapted this recipe from one in Gordon Ramsey's Cooking for Friends. It's a good cookbook that I'm glad I checked out from the library. There are a number of very accessible recipes and also quite a few that look a bit over the top, but with solid instructions. I do wish there were more photos of the food and less of Ramsey himself. But this recipe is definitely a keeper. Spot on, Chef Ramsey! No disasters or screaming in the kitchen to report.
Grilled Eggplant Salad
2 medium eggplants (Italian ones work well because they are fatter and the slices are easier to manage on the grill), sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1-3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, any color or a mix of colors, halved
balsamic vinegar for drizzling (if you have a high quality, aged balsamic, now is the time to pull it out of the cabinet)
mint, about 16 leaves, chopped or torn
salt and pepper, to taste (you don't need much)
1. Heat the grill. You will be cooking the eggplant slices on medium-high heat.
2. Mix the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.
3. Brush the olive oil/garlic mixture on both sides of the eggplant slices
4. Grill eggplant slices for about 4 minutes per side (depending on how thinly the eggplant is sliced).
5. Divide the grilled eggplant between 4 bowls, laying the eggplant on the bottom of the bowl so it comes up the sides of the bowls, overlapping if necessary.
6. Place about 1/2 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes in each bowl, then a small handful of crumbled feta.
7. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over each serving, about a Tablespoon (or to your taste) on each. You may also want to drizzle a little extra olive oil -- I didn't, but it could be nice.
8. Garnish with the mint. Don't be afraid to be generous with the mint -- it adds great flavor.
9. Add a small pinch of salt and a grinding of fresh pepper to each bowl, keeping in mind that the feta adds some salt already.