The following Grilled Eggplant with Basil recipe is a great summer contorno or side dish and can be easily prepared via an outdoor grill. The key to grilling eggplant outdoors is to cut the eggplant fairly thick (1/2 inch) and preseason with olive oil, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. You’ll also want to be very sensitive to cooking time and avoid over or under cooking your eggplant (which is a common occurrence).
- 1 large standard eggplant or 2-3 Japanese or Sicilian varieties
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grated cheese
Not at all eggplant is created equal so start with either a Sicilian or Japanese variety eggplant; you can, of course, use the standard eggplant found at most markets but I prefer the former varieties. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 long slices and brush both sides with olive oil. Next, season both sides with liberal amounts of freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt. Preheat your outdoor grill and bring grilling the eggplant. I like to place the grill lid on my BBQ unit and let the eggplant “bake” for 3-5 minutes (depending on the strength of your fire). Flip the eggplant and repeat the process for the uncooked side. When grilling eggplant outdoors you’re trying to find that happy medium between a nicely charred exterior and wonderfully soft and tender interior.
Remove the eggplant and chop into 1-1.5 inch pieces and toss with plenty of fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. If you’ve some Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano in the house then grate some over the eggplant.