Meat can really hog the spotlight when it comes to grilling. But sometimes, a beautifully grilled vegetable comes along and steals the show. This is what happened here for me, with this eggplant from The Big-Flavor Grill, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby.
Inch-thick slabs of eggplant are grilled until golden and soft (but not floppy) and, just before they come off, are brushed with puckeringly transformative pomegranate molasses. Salty, creamy feta cheese mixed with olive oil and fresh thyme cool the smoky eggplant, and a dusting of Maras pepper flakes imparts fruity, earthy heat. Of all the leftovers from our day of grilling, this is what I wanted most for dinner the next night.
Why I picked this recipe: I love eggplant, and I could eat feta and pomegranate molasses on pretty much anything without complaint.
What worked: The recipe is so simple: other than olive oil, salt, and pepper, there are just 5 ingredients. They come together in an elegant way.
What didn't: There was too much thyme for my taste; it overwhelmed the other flavors.
Suggested tweaks: Start with 1 tablespoon of the thyme, and add more to your taste. If you can't find the Maras pepper flakes (if there's a Middle Eastern market near you, you might get lucky), substitute the more widely available Aleppo flakes. The peppers are cousins (Maras from Turkey, Aleppo from Syria) and have similar flavor profiles, though the Maras is a bit hotter.
Reprinted with permission from The Big-Flavor Grill, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC.