Grilled Eggplant

I get some interesting reactions when I talk about eggplant. It seems people either love it or hate it. I have had delicious foods made with eggplant, especially living in the Middle East, and Boston with its rich Italian influence. But after years of cooking with eggplant, I can understand why many people dislike it. Depending on how it is cooked, eggplant can have a mushy, unappealing texture, and can be quite bitter. These mistakes are easily rectifiable. Grilled eggplant, especially when cut thinner than the standard 1/2 inch, has a delicious, crisp outside. If it is cut in 1/4 inch (or less) slices the inner mushiness is just the right amount to complement the outer texture and taste. As for the bitterness, it's not really a problem when eggplant is in season (late summer, early fall). But even then, I throw some salt on the sliced eggplant and let the bitter juices drain for about an hour. I rinse the salt off after it's drained, but the salt pulls out the extra moisture and helps prevent the eggplant from getting soggy during the grilling. Brush the slices with olive oil and grill them with balsamic vinegar until golden with grill marks and, Voila! They're done and delicious. Enjoy on sandwiches, in salads, or layered with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic vinaigrette. Replace the noodles in your lasagna recipe with slices cut lengthwise, or eat them rolled up with a filling. I also love them mixed with other grilled vegetables as a side dish. They are delicious served hot, but just as good at room temperature and for leftovers the next day. Yum, it's time to get grilling!    
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Ingredients

2 purple eggplant, sliced in rounds or lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick 1 tbsp course salt 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil 1 -2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional) pepper to taste

Directions

1) Choose firm purple eggplants that are on the medium to smaller size so the skin isn't tough. I love the flavor of the round, purple Sicilian ones, too. Cut the ends off and slice in rounds or lengthwise, in whatever thickness you like. The thinner they are cut, the easier they are to accidentally burn. I like mine cut on thinner side - about 1/4 inch thick - but go thicker if you wish. Season the slices with 2 tablespoons of salt and place them into a colander. Let the eggplant drain for about one hour, then rinse and dry it with paper towel. Brush slices of eggplant with olive oil and and/or balsamic vinegar. Grill over medium-high heat until golden brown, with grill marks. Enjoy!