June 26, 2011

Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad

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This is supposed to be a photo of blueberry pancakes.

You should be looking at a huge stack of juicy, golden blueberry pancakes, drizzled with a tantalizing stream of maple syrup.

Not a picture of grilled eggplant.

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The problem is, my friends, that blueberry pancakes are a tricky little breakfast dish. Sure, they lure you in with their berry-studded exterior and fluffy appearance, but behind all that they hide a plethora of mishaps and diva fits. Use the Greek yogurt instead of regular, the batter won’t pour. Use more than 2 and 19/50 ounces of wheat flour, the batter is thicker than a Tempur Pedic mattress.

Seriously, the recipe called for that exact amount of wheat flour.

So, I’ll have to get back to you vis-à-vis blueberry pancakes for now. Something tells me that it’s the sort of recipe that a person really has to personalize to suit their tastes. You’ll be the first to know when I’ve hit the blueberry-filled jackpot.

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Now, on to more pressing matters, like this grilled eggplant fandango. It looks kinda cool, doesn’t it? When I first happened across the recipe, I was somewhat hesitant, seeing as I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant. Unless it’s fried, that is. However, with co-stars such as tangy goat cheese, syrupy balsamic vinegar, refreshing mint, crunchy toasted pine nuts, and the chance to use some of my bountiful basil crop, this recipe won me over.

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On it’s own, eggplant can be a bit funky. Uncooked, it’s all hollow-sounding and spongy and marshmallow-esque. Cooked, it’s softened to the point of resembling some sort of boiled root vegetable. Truly, it is one of the world’s weirder vegetables.

Right up there with watermelon.

What? You don’t think watermelon’s strange? It’s a fruit with the texture of an icy snow cone that you sprinkle with salt. Weird.

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Despite being a generally odd vegetable, in this particular case, eggplant really is redeemed by its accompaniments. While the smooth texture of grilled eggplant on its own can seem—at least to me—a bit unnerving, the sticky, smushy goat cheese combined with the occasional hearty crunch of pine nuts really makes for a delicious bite of food. Topped with a spot of chopped basil and mint, you get a bright punch of color and herby freshness. Coated in a light blend of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, all the flavors fuse together beautifully.

If you’re looking for a light, savory, easy summer side dish, look no further than this tasty salad.


Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad

Recipe adapted from “Giada’s Kitchen” by Giada De Laurentiis

Printable Recipe


2 large eggplants, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch circles

3 tablespoons, plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

3 ounces goat cheese (not feta cheese), crumbled

1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Toss the eggplant slices with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat and grill eggplant slices until tender and grill marks appear, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts. In a small, dry skillet, heat the pine nuts over medium heat, stirring frequently, until slightly browned. Set aside.

To assemble the salad, place the eggplant slices side by side on a serving platter. Sprinkle with pine nuts, goat cheese, mint, and basil. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, as well as the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.

16 comments:

  1. I used to hate eggplant. When I was little, someone gave me moussaka (my first ever) and I thought it was lasagne. A layer of weird spongy veg when you're expecting pasta is a bit disconcerting. I love both eggplant and moussaka now, but it was a rocky start.

    This looks absolutely lovely. Perfect balmy summmer evening food. Definitely one to bookmark. Mmm, goat cheese.

    Good luck with the pancakes! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has issues with them.

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  2. Looks yummy!

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  3. I love the sound of this dish. I can't get enough of goat cheese. What a great complement to the eggplant.
    I think I say this every post, but your photos are amazing. I would love to pick your brain about photography.

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  4. I absolutely love this flavor combination! My husband also thinks eggplant is a "weird" vegetable but I just love it! I think we'll both enjoy this version.

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  5. Hey who moved the blueberry pancakes? Yes, I've had that experience with pancakes, Koci.

    Never mind, this is a gorgeous eggplant recipe. I was just pondering whether to make Meltizanasalata with the 2 languishing in the veg basket but this looks even better.

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  6. What a great recipe! I love eggplant and the combo with goat cheese is a fabulous one. Love the pictures too!

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  7. This rocks! I am not the biggest fan of eggplant (unless it's fried) but I really want to make this side dish! Great pics:)

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  8. Okay, I don't like eggplant really either, but there is no way I can say no to goat cheese and pine nuts. This looks awesome (and better than blueberry pancakes)!

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  9. To be honest, I'd definitely prefer a big plate of this delicious eggplant to blueberry pancakes! It sounds soo delicious!

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  10. Don't worry about those blueberry pancakes...this dish looks incredible!

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  11. this looks great! I LOVE eggplant! I can eat it any any form :)this salad looks so good that i can eat it for a week straight! New to your blog and really like the photos :)

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  12. So I'm totally with you on eggplant -- weird. And I honestly don't like it at all because of the spongy texture after it's cooked. BUT this salad looks incredible...just may make me change my mind, as I pretty much love every ingredient.
    Oh, and salt on watermelon? I've honestly never heard/thought to do that! Now I want to try it!

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  13. This looks absolutely amazing!!! Yum! Great Pics!

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  14. This was delicious!

    Such a great blend of flavors.

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  15. I'm getting my summer cooking ducks in a row, and I'd really like to share this via Pinterest on my Summer: Enjoy Fresh! pinboard. I don't see a pinbutton, so I'm asking pretty pretty please may I pin this amazing recipe/photo? Thanks either way -- Gail

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  16. @Gail: Absolutely! I'm so glad you like it!

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