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Easy Grilled Eggplant with Balsamic and Garlic

Eggplants are in season and I have really been enjoying my mother’s Grilled Eggplant recipe with Balsamic and Garlic.  The eggplant is charred on a hot grill and then topped with oregano, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.  It is so easy yet so incredibly flavorful.  I think I like this way of cooking eggplant as much as I love caponata.

A silver tray of grilled eggplant slices.

This rustic recipe uses the simplest of ingredients and combines them, without any fussy process, to create a tasty, mouth-watering dish, like my Easy Roast Potatoes and Broccoli.  Each ingredient stands out and the grilled eggplant acts as a luscious and creamy base for all those flavors. 

Grilled eggplant is a fabulous side dish that is easy to prepare on an outdoor grill or an indoor grill pan.  Either way, you can achieve nice grill marks that produce a delicious smoky flavor. So as long as you can find good eggplant in the grocery store there is no need to wait for summer to make this healthy vegetable.  

How to Make this Easy Recipe

Simple Ingredients

Ingredients to make grilled eggplant with balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano and black pepper.

Whole Eggplant: Make sure to pick out a good one!  Ripe eggplant should be firm but not hard and it should have shiny skin. Small to medium-sized bulbs will be the least bitter.  Larger eggplants will have more seeds and the seeds are where most of the bitterness lies.

Kosher salt: This is used to draw out some of the bitterness before cooking the eggplant.

Garlic:  Use fresh garlic and dice it very finely.  Because the garlic will be eaten raw, you want to make sure that it is distributed on the eggplant in very small portions.

Dried Oregano:  I like the robust flavor that dried oregano brings to this dish, but you can also use fresh if you have it.  You may need to use a little more than a teaspoon of fresh because the flavor of fresh herbs is not as concentrated as it is in dry.  

Balsamic Vinegar:  I would recommend using plain balsamic vinegar.  Although I love many of the flavor varieties, I think that the original works best here.

Grilling and Assembling the Eggplant

Process photo of slating eggplant slices, setting it to sweat in a colander, grilling it and completed on tray.
  1. Cut the eggplant into uniform slices and salt each slice on both sides. 
  2. Put it in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Brush olive oil on both sides of the eggplant slices and place them on a preheated grill or grill pan set to medium-high heat.
  4. Transfer the slices of eggplant to a serving plate and top them with black pepper, garlic, oregano, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  

Tip for the Best Grilled Eggplant:

Make sure to cook the eggplant all the way through, in fact, err on the side of overcooking rather than undercooking it.  Undercooked eggplant will have an unpleasant spongey texture, while thoroughly cooked eggplant will be tender and creamy.

Why do you salt eggplant?

Salting eggplant slices before cooking does two things:

  • It helps to mellow the flavor and remove any bitterness that there may be in the plant.  Although the eggplants we get at the market today have been bred to be less bitter, it has not been totally eliminated.
  • The salt makes the eggplant sweat, thus drawing out some of the water trapped in the vegetable.  This results in a less spongey, creamier eggplant.  This also keeps it from getting soggy while cooking.
A silver tray of grilled eggplant  slices on a red and white cloth.

Serving Suggestions and Variations

One of the things I love about this recipe is that it is so versatile.  Grilled eggplant makes a wonderful appetizer on it’s own or as part of an antipasto tray.  It’s also a delicious side dish that pairs well with fish, pork, beef, or chicken.  I love it as a side to Grilled Chicken Legs,  Mediterranean Lollipop Lamb ChopsRoasted Pork Tenderloin, or juicy Grilled Lamb Burgers.

This savory eggplant dish also fits perfectly into a low-carb or vegetarian diet. 

This easy eggplant recipe is a great starting point for enjoying this vegetable.  Here are some variations you might like:

  • For the eggplant lover who likes things spicy, sprinkle the eggplant slices with some red pepper flakes. 
  • The addition of crumbled feta cheese is a great way to add salty Mediterranean flavor.
  • If you don’t want to use balsamic vinegar, try some freshly squeezed lemon juice instead.  
  • Experiment with your favorite seasonings, spice blend, or other herbs.  

This recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated.  It is just as delicious at room temperature or warmed up just before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to peel eggplant before cooking it?

You don’t have to peel eggplant before preparing it. I like the texture of the peel and the way it kind of holds the eggplant together. But if you don’t like it or if you have trouble digesting it, you can remove the peel.

Do you have to rinse eggplant after salting it?

Many recipes will have you rinse it and then apply salt when you cook it. You don’t have to rinse it for this recipe. Because we are not adding any more salt to the eggplant as we cook it there is no reason to rinse off the salt. You will remove some of it when you pat it dry. Also if you rinse it, you are adding water back in to the eggplant that you just spent an hour removing the excess moisture from.

How do you store and reheat leftover grilled eggplant?

Leftovers should placed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for several days. Remove them from the refrigerator about an hour before you plant to eat if you want to serve them at room temperature or they can be easily reheated in the microwave.

What are the most common types of Eggplant?

Some of the different types of eggplant you might see are:
Globe Eggplant is the most common type of eggplant in the US. They are dark purple and have a meaty texture.   
Asian eggplants, such as the long thin Japanese eggplant,
White eggplant
Purple-stripped Sicilian eggplant, and 
Italian eggplant which looks like the globe eggplant but is smaller and sweeter tasting. 
All Recipes has more information on the types and uses of each of these varieties.

A tray of grilled eggplant slices on a red cloth, with garlic cloves scattered about.

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Grilled Eggplant or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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Recipe

A tray of grilled eggplant slices on a red cloth, with garlic cloves scattered about.

Grilled Eggplant

This grilled eggplant is easy, flavorful and versatile. Simply grilled and dressed with garlic and balsamic vinegar, this makes a delicious appetizer or side dish.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 109 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Eggplants small to medium
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tsp Oregano Dried
  • 2 cloves Garlic fine diced
  • 1 tbsp Salt kosher
  • 1 tsp Black pepper ground
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Cut the eggplant into ¼"-½" thick slices. Salt on both sides and place in a colander set over a plate or in a sink. Set the eggplant aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat your grill or grill pan.
    Pat the eggplant slices dry with a paper towel.
  • Brush each slice with olive oil and lay on the grill oil side down. Brush the top of the eggplant with olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes or until there are dark grill marks on the eggplant. Turn over and grill for another 5 minutes. The eggplant should be tender, not be spongy, when pierced with a fork.
  • Transfer the eggplant to a platter or baking sheet. Drizzle with additional olive oil if you like. Sprinkle the pepper, oregano and garlic over the eggplant. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition

Serving: 6servingsCalories: 109kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 1168mgPotassium: 373mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 48IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Eggplant, Garlic, balsamic vinegar, oregano, olive oil, grilled
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