Tuscan Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta

Long days with short to-do lists, that’s the way early summer weekends should be.  This time of year, my husband and I enjoy inviting nearby friends and family over to enjoy good times, good conversation and, of course, good food! When our kids were younger, the adults would sit around on the patio and watch the commotion of backyard games, swapping stories about potty training and preschool admissions – now these toddlers have turned into teens and many will soon be heading away to college! This reminds me that the one constant thing in life is change and I should relish and take full advantage of each moment as it is gifted to me.

Despite the inevitability of change, the one thing that has always remained the same is my philosophy towards outdoor entertaining – keep it easy! It can’t get much simpler than firing up the grill to make dinner and my favorite grilling recipes are those that combine the season’s freshest ingredients with simple herbs and spices. No cloyingly rich sauces, no greasy gunk, no crust nor breading; just delicious, straightforward and seriously healthy food. Most people equate grilling with throwing a hunk of meat on the grates. While I do love my lean proteins, I also enjoy grilling all sorts of vegetables – zucchini, onions, artichokes and even Romaine lettuce! One dish you absolutely have to try for easy outdoor entertaining is my recipe for Tuscan Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta – it’s an uncomplicated and outrageously delicious way to prepare this strange-looking and often intimidating big purple vegetable.

Grilled Eggplant and Litehouse Foods Herbs & Dressing Grilled Eggplant and Litehouse Foods Herbs & Dressing

 

Slicing eggplant into lengthwise planks gives the vegetable the substantial presence of a steak, making this recipe a satisfying main meal option for any vegetarian – I also like to serve this version of eggplant as a stunning side dish with lean proteins such as grilled fish or chicken. Even though the actual grilling process is a breeze, a little bit of time does need to be spent prepping the eggplant. Following the salting, soaking and patting dry process described in the recipe directions will help ensure you don’t end up with soggy or bitter eggplant. You can skip this step if in a rush, but the taste and texture of the eggplant is much better if you see it through. Guests are sure to be prolific in their praise of  your gourmet grilling skills when you serve this elegant yet easy recipe –  it can be our little secret that the only other ingredients besides eggplant and tomatoes are Tuscan Herb with Lemon dressing, Feta Cheese Crumbles and Instantly Fresh Herbs from Litehouse Food.

Grilled Eggplant on Platter with Candle Grilled Eggplant on Platter with Candle

 

So, enough about the eggplant; outdoor entertaining is also about the ambiance. When the sun starts to sink, light candles for a beautiful effect – if you look closely you may just recognize these glass lanterns to be repurposed salad dressing jars! Just rinse out your empty jars of any type and fill the bottoms with sand or small pebbles before adding candles. If you like, loop wire around each rim and fashion into a handle for easy toting to the table. Enjoy!

Litehouse Jar Candles Litehouse Jar Candles

 

Tuscan Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes & Feta

Serves 4 | Finish in 58 minutes
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Keep outdoor entertaining simple but super delicious with my go to grilled vegetable for the season – eggplant! Served up like a tomato-topped steak, this big purple powerhouse of nutritious makes a most-impressive vegetarian meal or side dish to lean proteins.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons salt
Water
1 large eggplant (approximately 1 ½ lbs.)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes in a variety of colors
¾ cup Litehouse® Tuscan Herb with Lemon Dressing and Marinade
1 ½ tsp. Litehouse® Instantly Fresh Basil
1 ½ tsp. Litehouse® Instantly Fresh Chives
2 oz. Litehouse® Feta Cheese Crumbles

Directions

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt into a 9”x13” or slightly larger dish that has been filled halfway with water. Trim eggplant and then cut into ½-inch lengthwise slices. Place slices into water, weighing them down with smaller plates that fit inside the dish. Let eggplant sit for at least 30 minutes. 4. Drain eggplant and pat it dry with clean towels. Place eggplant back in dried dish used for soaking and add tomatoes. Pour over Tuscan Herb dressing and gently stir until coated. Let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat (approximately 400 degrees). Remove eggplant slices from marinade and place directly on grates of hot grill. Skewer tomatoes or place them in a grill basket. Grill eggplant for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until tender and deep brown grill marks appear. Grill tomatoes for approximately 3- 4 minutes, turning or tossing in basked until softened and popped. Transfer eggplant to serving platter and top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil, chives and feta cheese crumbles.


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