For a long time, I could never get into eggplant. It always seemed mushy and bitter to me, and preparations were often oily, so I tended to avoid it. But then I discovered long, skinny varieties of eggplant from Asia (you often see them at farmers' markets) that come in all different colors, have a thinner skin, and less bitter seeds. Their flavor is more mild and delicate, and they just might convert you, too.
Why I Picked This Recipe: Two words: creamed feta. The idea, from a chef I pretty much implicitly trust, was too intriguing and delicious-sounding to pass up.
What Worked: As a late summer/early fall dish, this was wonderful: the grilled eggplants come out tender and succulent and taste quite nice at room temperature set out on a table outside. The feta—mashed up with thick yogurt and flecked with fresh herbs—makes for a creamy, salty accompaniment to slather on flatbread.
What Didn't: Not exactly a complaint, but the amounts in this recipe make for far more creamed feta than is necessary. I enjoyed having it in the fridge for a couple days, but if you'd like, you can make less.
Suggested Tweaks: Adding more herbs. You could easily double or triple the amount of parsley, basil, and mint in the feta mixture and it would only improve.
Adapted from Nigel Slater.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 4-6 long Asian eggplants, or 2 medium-sized European eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch thick pieces
- 7 ounces feta cheese
- 3/4 cup thick yogurt (preferably sheep's)
- 1 tablespoon each chopped basil, parsley, and mint
- salt and pepper, to taste
- olive oil, as needed
- warm flat bread, to serve
If time allows, sprinkle the eggplant pieces with sea salt and allow to stand for up to an hour. This will help them to absorb less oil later on.
In a medium bowl, crumble the feta and mash roughly with a fork. Add the yogurt, 3 tablespoons water, and the herbs. Season with black pepper and mash the whole mixture together until creamy. If necessary, season with salt.
Meanwhile, rinse the eggplants and pat them dry. Brush with a little olive oil and grill until tender, 4-6 minutes per side. They should have some color and char.
Remove the eggplant pieces to a serving dish and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt. Allow them to cool. Serve with the creamed feta and flatbread.