Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mint and Balsamic Vinegar
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- 3 eggplants (about 1 pound each)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus a little additional for brushing eggplant
- 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 28-ounce can of tomatoes
- 1 cup firmly packed, torn fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 8 flat filets of anchovies, minced
- Prepare a very hot charcoal fire.
- Cut the top third of of each eggplant; reserve tops for another use. Cut a thin slice of of the other end. Stand each eggplant on a cut end. Peel one side of each eggplant (peeling away about one quarter of the eggplant skin), and then peel the opposite side (another one quarter of the skin). With each eggplant still standing on its cut end, and the unpeeled flesh of each one facing left and right, cut each eggplant into 8 vertical slices, approximately 1/3 inch thick. The 24 slices should be rectangular, with a thin border of peel on two sides. Plunge them into salted, simmering water for 2 minutes. Remove, and brush them lightly with olive oil.
- When the fire is ready, place the eggplant slices over it in a single layer. Cover, but turn frequently, checking every 2 minutes or so to make sure the eggplant is not burning. (Alternatively, you can cook the eggplant under a broiler on an oiled cookie sheet.) The slices are done when they're sizzled brown on the outside, just tender within. Lay them out on one or more large platters, in a single layer, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Prepare the tomato mixture: Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy pan over moderately high heat. Add the sliced onions, and sauté until they just start to turn yellow and soften (about 3 minutes). Squeeze the juice out of each canned tomato in your hand (reserving juice for another use), and add the tomatoes to the onions. Sauté for 1 minute. Season to taste.
- In the large mixing bowl, cover the eggplant slices with the tomato-onion mixture. Add the mint leaves, and sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over all. Very gently, toss the salad together, trying to keep the eggplant slices as whole as possible. Let cool for 15 minutes, and serve at room temperature anytime within a few hours. Just before serving, top with the minced anchovies.
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