Monday, January 19, 2015

Roasted Eggplant Strips with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce and Cilantro-Olive Gremolata

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables and roasting or grilling strips of it is one of the tastiest way to make it.  And definitely the quickest.  

Some people say they don't like eggplant.  My guess is that a lot of them just haven't had it cooked right.  The first time I had eggplant was as a child in a casserole, and it was not cooked enough.  And eggplant when it's not cooked enough is not very tasty, no matter what it's got going on for seasoning. 

Cutting the eggplant into fairly thin strips keeps the cooking time low, and takes away some of that "eggplanty" texture that eggplant haters don't like.  

I most often roast the eggplant in the oven, because I often don't have access to a grill, or if I do, the weather is not grill weather.  If you do have a grill and the weather isn't frightening, cut the strips the same way and grill over medium-high until tender.  If you are really short on time (or patience) you can broil the strips in the oven in under ten minutes- just keep a close eye, or you'll end up with charcoal.

Once roasted or grilled, the eggplant makes a great topper for pizza or salad, and is also great just by itself.  Or, you can fancy it up with a couple of delicious sauces like I did here.  I use cilantro in both of my sauces because I happened to have half of a bunch leftover.  I think it worked really well, but if you're not a cilantro fan, or you have half of a bunch of parsley instead, that would be a great substitute.

What you need for the eggplant:

4 small eggplant, or two medium/large
Olive oil spray or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Slice the eggplant into ~1/4 inch thick strips or rounds. Lightly spray two baking sheets with olive oil.  Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheets so that they are not overlapping.  Touching is perfectly fine.  Spray or brush with olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, switching the pans halfway through.  Cooking time will vary based on how thin your strips are.  The eggplant is ready when it is soft and lightly browned.

Serve with the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce and/or the Cilantro-Olive Gremolata.  I placed a small spoonful of the sauce on each strip of eggplant and then rolled them up to eat.  You could spread the sauce across and use a knife if you want to keep your hands clean. 


What you need for the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup Greek yogurt (2-4% is best, but you can use fat free if you wish)
~1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix together all ingredients.  Let sit for at least 20 minutes to let flavors meld.

What you need for the Cilantro-Olive Gremolata:

~2/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green olives (I used the ones with pimientos)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Black pepper and sea salt to taste

Mix together all ingredients.  Let sit for at least 20 minutes to let flavors meld.

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