Sometimes the simplest thing are the best. This is especially true at the very end of summer, when tomatoes, eggplant, and other late vegetables are finally in their prime. A quick weeknight meal can consist of very little other than fresh vegetables, smoky and hot from the grill. Here's how we cooked up our own late garden bounty. This was a simple, yet utterly luxurious, weeknight meal. We sliced up a couple of eggplants, then soaked the slices briefly in a marinade of olive oil and honey vinegar. We slapped them on the grill until they were unctuous and smoky, then topped them with crumbles of goat cheese and a quick chop of tomatoes and herbs. Served with some bread, this is a satisfying main course, or you could serve it as a salad or appetizer.
This is so quick and easy, if you have a grill. And actually, even if you don't have a grill you can do this! Just use a cast iron pan or grill pan over high heat.
Grilled Eggplant Topped with Goat Cheese and Tomato
2 medium eggplants*
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey balsamic vinegar OR 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 stalk Italian parsley, leaves only, minced
Small handful fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Slice the eggplants into rounds about 3/4-inch thick. Salt lightly and set aside. Heat the grill (or stovetop grill pan) to high heat.
Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and lightly dunk the eggplant slices so each is moist with the oil. Place them on the heated grill and cover. Cook, turning halfway through, for 8-10 minutes, or until they are as soft as you prefer.
Meanwhile, toss the chopped tomatoes with the minced herbs and mix with just a little salt and pepper to taste.
In the last couple minutes of cooking, sprinkle each eggplant slice with a few crumbles of goat cheese and cook so that the cheese begins to soften. Remove the slices, top with the tomato mixture, and serve!
* Baby eggplants, or the long skinny Asian eggplants, are best, but smallish purple globe eggplants will do.
(Images: Faith Durand)