Grilled eggplant can have a reputation for being bitter or hard to cook, but when paired with the right ingredients, it will easily absorb surrounding flavors into its incredibly rich and meaty texture. In this recipe, the glossy round vegetable is grilled or roasted with lemon, paprika, and sea salt, and paired with tahini in a babaganoush-like dish that’s perfect for an easy dinner or family BBQ.
Recipe and photo by Dafna Ben-Zeev of Freshly Dafna
- 1 eggplant
- 1/4 c tahini
- 1/4 c water
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Sea salt
- Prepare the eggplant by cutting a 1-inch deep slit in the center of the eggplant about 2 inches from the top, down to the tip.
- Cook the eggplant either on the grill or in the oven. To cook on the grill, start by cooking the eggplant slit side up for about 15 minutes, then flip so slit side is down, and cook for another 15 minutes until the eggplant collapses and softens. To cook in the oven, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the eggplant slit side up directly on the upper rack and place a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil on the rack below to catch all falling juices. Bake for about 25 minutes each side or until eggplant is soft.
- Let the eggplant cool slightly and prepare the tahini sauce.
- To prepare sauce, mix together tahini, water, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Add more water or lemon to reach your desired thickness. It should be thin enough to drizzle.
- Once eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel the eggplant, leaving the upper stem.
- Place on a serving dish, and drizzle tahini sauce all over, topping it off with a smattering of sea salt and paprika. Optional: Make a few cuts width-wise in the eggplant for easy serving.
Recipe Notes and Variations
The grill will give the eggplant a rich, smoky flavor. If this is not an option, you can still achieve this smoky flavor by cooking it over a flame directly on the stove. This takes less time than the oven but it’s a bit more messy. Just line your stove with some aluminum foil for an easier clean up. Roast the eggplant directly over the range, over a medium high flame, and use tongs to flip halfway. For a 2 lb eggplant, this method should take about 15 minutes each side.
The key to avoiding a bitter eggplant is making sure the eggplant is fresh! To choose a ripe eggplant, select one that’s firm and has shiny skin with no bruises, soft spots, or scars. Pick an eggplant that looks relatively light for its size, as this means it has fewer seeds.