Grilled Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta and Herbs

Haven’t had eggplant in forever and I know Rob won’t eat this because of the feta but I think he’ll live with it if I make a couple of steaks. 😉 It also give me an extra excuse to pick up a cast iron grill/griddle.

(Makes 3-4 servings, depending on size of eggplant, recipe adapted by Kalyn from Fine Cooking magazine, September 2007.)

1 large eggplant, cut in uniform slices 3/4 inch thick
olive oil, for brushing on eggplant
2 T chopped fresh mint
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
(You could use all mint or all cilantro if that’s what you have. I also think this would taste great with a mixture of basil and oregano.)
1/4 cup crumbled feta

For vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp. garlic puree or finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T shallots or red onion, finely minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds are best, but ground cumin will work)
pinch Aleppo Pepper (or use cayenne pepper)
1/2 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional, but highly recommended)
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat gas or charcoal barbecue grill to medium high. (You can only hold your hand there for 2-3 seconds at that heat.)

Put garlic, salt, lemon juice, and shallots or red onion into food processor fitted with steel blade, Pulse until all ingredients are well combined, then let sit for 10 minutes. (This could also be done in a blender.) After ten minutes, put mixture in small bowl, stir in ground cumin, Aleppo or Cayenne pepper, and Spike Seasoning if using, then wisk in olive oil.

Brush eggplant with olive oil on both sides. For criss-cross grill marks, grill 4-5 minutes on first side, then rotate and cook 3-4 minutes more. Turn and cook about 7-8 minutes more on second side. I cooked my eggplant pieces just under 15 minutes total cooking time. Actual cooking time will depend on how hot your grill is and the temperature and thickness of the eggplant. Watch it carefully the last five minutes of cooking time and rotate pieces so they are evenly browned.

To serve, arrange grilled eggplant slices on serving platter, drizzle vinaigrette over, then top with crumbled feta and herbs.

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