Grilled Eggplant with Herbs, Garlic, and Vinegar (Melanzane Arrostite)

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(photo: grilled eggplant with herbs, garlic, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil or melanzane arrostite)

Eggplant is consumed en mass in southern Italy and you see melanzane as a parmigiana, of course, pickled in olive oil and vinegar, slowly roasted and simmered for pasta alla norma, and my favorite preparation grilled with herbs, garlic, and vinegar.  

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 large eggplant (any variety will do including: Sicilian, globe, or Japanese)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Herbs (use parsley in the winter and/or basil/mint in the spring and summer months)
  • Dried oregano
  • 2 pieces of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons of Italian red wine vinegar
Process:
Our grilled eggplant with herbs (usually parsley, basil, or mint), garlic and vinegar (melanzane arrostite) begins with Sicilian eggplants (the light purple and round variety found at most specialty shops, but increasingly found at national supermarkets like Whole Foods).  You can also use the standard globe eggplant or the long, and very tasty, Japanese eggplant.  Regardless of the type of eggplant you choose, the eggplant pieces should be cut into 2-2.5 inch length pieces with a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch.  Cutting the eggplant too thin will lead quickly burning the eggplant while cutting the vegetable too thick will make it difficult to cook the eggplant all the way through.  
A second important step is too place the eggplant pieces into a large bowl and salt heavily with Kosher salt.  I like to sprinkle the salt onto the eggplant while gently turning the eggplant pieces with my hands (this ensure good coverage).  Next, let the eggplant and salt sit for 15-30 minutes or until a good amount of liquid is released.  This process will ensure tender and  juicy eggplant (and is one of the secrets of producing a great eggplant dish).

(photo: grilled eggplant with herbs, garlic, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil or melanzane arrostite)
Remove the eggplant to a clean bowl and squeeze out any excess water.  Dry the pieces with a clean towel and return to a clean dry bowl.  Next, add extra virgin oil, freshly ground black, pepper, and chopped parsley to the bowl and mix well.  Heat your grill pan or outdoor grill and begin grilling the eggplant pieces.  If your flame/grill pan is hot a few minutes on each side should suffice.  In the same bowl used to mix the eggplant ingredients add back the cooked eggplant and two table spoon of good, imported, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, more chopped parsley, finely diced garlic, and fresh extra virgin olive oil.  Mix the items well and serve.      
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