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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.