We try to eat seasonally as much as possible, but there are some veggies that just get the short shrift. Take eggplant. When’s the last time you had and eggplant dish that didn’t involve it getting breaded, fried, cooked until it’s totally mushy inside, then doused in tomato sauce and melted cheese? Sure, eggplant parm tastes amazing, but does it really taste like eggplant? We don’t think so. Leave it to Giada De Laurentiis to come up with a modern Italian eggplant recipe that actually lets you taste the beautiful fresh eggplant that’s in season right now.
It’s a grilled eggplant and goat cheese salad, though it’s hearty enough to be a dinner, not just a side dish (pair with grilled garlic bread and a glass of wine). There are a couple of tricks to making this recipe work.
For one, the eggplant De Laurentiis uses is the long, slender, and lighter purple Japanese eggplant. These eggplants tend to be less bitter and have less seeds in them than the large, dark purple Italian eggplant.
Secondly, the eggplant is cooked on the grill. It gets a delicious char and is cooked until tender, but it don’t get mushy the way eggplant can when you cook it in a pan, fry it, or smother it in sauce.
Then, to keep the flavors light and bright, the eggplant is sprinkled with tangy goat cheese, fragrant basil and mint, and dressed with a simply balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. Pine nuts add just the right amount of buttery richness and crunch.
Once you taste eggplant this way, it’ll be hard to go back. Simply grilled, eggplant can shine in everything from this flavorful salad to pita wraps, pasta dishes, and more.
In search of more summer recipes? Giada De Laurentiis has plenty: