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World's Best Grilled Eggplant Salad Recipe
Grilled Eggplant Salad with Peppers and Onions
Summer in a Bowl
The best part of summer is hauling out the grill!
This is a dish that gets raves for its incredible flavor -- and looks great, too.
Because this tastes great room temperature, it's a standout dish to take to a summer potluck.
This recipe easily doubles, or triples -- depending on how many people are bellying up to your table.
two bellpeppers (I like using yellow or orange ones, for color)
salt and pepper
herbs, chopped, for garnish (I often use cilantro -- but chives, rosemary or parsley work, too)
FOR THE SAUCE
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. lime (or lemon) juice -- fresh is always best!
4 tbsp. sweet chili sauce (available in Asian markets and larger supermarkets)
Vegetables ready for the grill
How To Prepare the Eggplants, Onions and Peppers
While the grill is heating -- or the charcoal briquettes are lit and making their way to gray -- prepare the vegetables.
Wash the eggplant (but don't peel it) and slice into rounds approximately 3/4 inch thick. Lay them on a foil-covered workspace and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let them sit for about 20 minutes, then with a paper towel press down on each one to release the moisture. This process removes the bitterness.
Remove the papery skin from the onions, then slice them into quarters through the root end. Don't cut off the root! Cutting through the root means the onions won't fall apart (and then fall through the grate of your grill.) The charred root end can be cut off before you assemble the salad -- or, left on. Your preference. I like the look of those charred ends.
Wash the peppers, remove the stem end and pull out the inner membranes and seeds. Slice into pieces that are approximately 1 1/2 inches square (ish.)
Put the onions and peppers into a large bowl, pour on a little olive oil, and toss to coat thoroughly. To coat the eggplant slices, I use olive oil cooking spray. It's really fast and easy.
Make sure your vegetables are fully coated in olive oil -- this guarantees they won't stick to the mesh of the grill.
How To Make The Sauce
Mix the sugar, lime juice and sweet chili sauce. Stir it occasionally so the sugar dissolves.
I always make the sauce just before I grill the vegetables. By the time the veggies are done, the sauce is ready to go.
If I plan to assemble everything within the hour, I usually mince my herbs and add them to the sauce. Once your vegetables are grilled, the only step left is to add the sauce.
The Vegetables, hot off the grill!
How To Grill The Vegetables
Place the vegetables over medium coals. Because vegetables can easily burn, I usually stay close to the grill while making this dish (or delegate the job to somebody while I'm cooking something else.)
Using tongs, turn the vegetables occasionally.
How long should they grill? Usually about 15 minutes or so -- but I always go by their appearance rather than time. Sometimes my coals aren't as hot as I thought, or hotter... the visuals are your best determiner of doneness. Charred edges always give them a yummy depth of flavor.
After I've removed the vegetables, I put the eggplant on my cutting board and cut them into cubes. The photo below shows you what they will look like.
Grilled Eggplant, sliced into cubes
How To Assemble the Salad
Place the onions, bell pepper, and eggplant cubes into a large bowl. Pour on the sauce and toss lightly -- make sure all the veggies are coated with sauce.
Add in a few grinds from your black pepper mill. Taste for seasoning. Sometimes I think it needs a little salt, sometimes it doesn't. You be the judge.
Mince the cilantro (or whatever herb you're using) and toss into the sauce-covered vegetables.
Can be eaten warm, room temperature, or -- if there are leftovers -- chilled from the fridge.
Enjoy the taste of summer!