Grilled Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce

From Cook's Country | June/July 2013
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Why this recipe works:

To get grilled eggplant that isn’t leathery or spongy, the size of the slice is crucial; inch is just the right thickness to produce a charred exterior and tender flesh. For flavor, we quickly infuse olive oil with garlic and chiles in the microwave and brush it on the eggplant slices before… read more

To get grilled eggplant that isn’t leathery or spongy, the size of the slice is crucial; ¼ inch is just the right thickness to produce a charred exterior and tender flesh. For flavor, we quickly infuse olive oil with garlic and chiles in the microwave and brush it on the eggplant slices before grilling. We save a tablespoon of the oil and mix it with yogurt, lemon, and fresh herbs for a Mediterranean-inspired sauce to drizzle on at the end.

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Serves 6 to 8

For spicier eggplant, increase the amount of red pepper flakes to ¼ teaspoon.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

Instructions

  1. 1. Combine oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in bowl. Microwave, uncovered, until garlic is golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Strain garlic oil through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl. Reserve garlic oil and crispy garlic separately.

    2. Combine yogurt, mint, 1 tablespoon garlic oil, lemon zest and juice, cumin, and ¼ teaspoon salt in separate bowl; set aside while preparing eggplant.

    3A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

    3B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.

    4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Brush eggplant all over with remaining garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange half of eggplant on grill and cook (covered if using gas) until browned and tender, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Serve eggplant with yogurt sauce and sprinkle with crispy garlic.

Eggplant Even Goldilocks Could Love

If the eggplant slices are too thick, the exterior will nicely char, but the inside will be spongy and underdone. We found that ¼-inch-thick slices are the optimal size for eggplant rounds destined for the grill.

1/4-INCH-THICK SLICES—JUST RIGHT

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