Let’s get right to it – A friend is in need of eggplant recipes, and I’m always willing to help out a friend!
So…early Saturday morning, off to the Memphis Farmers Market I went, in search of some delightful Chinese eggplant. I easily achieved my goal, and also picked up some Ripley, TN cherry tomatoes (more on that later). I could easily have left with a ton of beautiful produce, but I remained focused…
Back at home, I was in a mood to grill, so I decided to make Eggplant and Goat Cheese rolls, one of my favorite ways with eggplant, with some of my little purple beauties.
*My camera (well, its batteries) was giving me fits yesterday, so I don’t have step-by-step pics, but hopefully my descriptions will do…
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Rolls
2-3 small Chinese Eggplants (other varieties are fine, I just happen to love Chinese
– total weight should be 1 to 1 and 1/2 lbs)
Coarse Kosher Salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar, for marinating
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 lg clove garlic, finely minced
6 oz goat cheese (I like the plain Montchevre)
5 large leaves of fresh basil, minced
2 TBL fresh oregano, minced
2 TBL fresh parsley, minced
Trim ends from eggplants, and then thinly slice, horizontally. (1/4in is a good thickness) You want long, thin strips.
Lay strips in single layer on double thickness of paper towels, sprinkle with coarse Kosher salt, and cover with another double layer of paper towels. Allow to ‘sweat’ for 20-30 min. This removes the excess moisture, and bitterness, if any, from the slices.
Rinse slices with cold water, and pat dry with fresh paper towels.
In med bowl, whisk together Balsamic vinegar, and both types of pepper. Pour 1/2 of mixture into a long, (non-metal) shallow baking dish, cover with eggplant strips, and then pour the rest of the mixture over top of the strips. Cover, and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
Put olive oil and garlic into a small saute pan, and warm slowly over low heat. The low heat allows the garlic to release its sweetness. As soon as tiny bubbles begin to appear in the oil, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside (do not allow the garlic to begin to brown!) Let cool – the slow cooling process will infuse the oil with wonderful garlic flavor.
In a med bowl, mix goat cheese well with the minced basil, oregano, and parsley. Cover, and refrigerate.
About 30 min. before the marinating is done, fire up your charcoal grill. When it comes to grilling, I’m a 100% charcoal girl, so if you’re using a gas grill, you’ll have to adapt this part.
At the 2 hour marinating mark, remove the eggplant from the fridge, and allow to rest for about 20 min. Also remove your goat cheese mixture from the fridge at this time – its flavors will intensify as it comes to room temp. After the rest period, hopefully your coals will be nice and white/gray, completely ashed over. Arrange your hot coals in a single layer, and situate your grill grate about 2 in above the fire. Drain eggplant of marinade, arrange on platter, and brush top sides with your garlic infused oil.
Place eggplant slices on grill, oiled side down, and lightly brush oil on exposed side. A good fire will grill your slices quickly – it only takes about 2 min per side. You want the slices browned, but still soft. Remove your eggplants slices at that stage, to a clean platter.
As soon as the eggplant slices are cool enough to handle, spread each with a layer of goat cheese mixture (how much is your business – I use a bit of a heavy hand here, love that goat cheese!). Starting at the smallest end, roll up slices, pinwheel fashion.
I tend to roll my slices almost right off the grill, so the residual heat melts the goat cheese a bit. If you don’t have my heatproof fingertips, lol, you can also pop your rolls into a preheated 375F oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese a bit, or not. Good goat cheese is good goat cheese, melted or unmelted. 😉 *Do not attempt to heat in the microwave! Microwaving cause the cheese to break down, leaving you with a grainy filling – not a good thing, take my word for it…
I can’t give you the number of servings for this one – everyone’s appetite is different, and it also depends on whether the rolls are being served as an appetizer, side dish, or even a main meal. You’re on your own with that!
Stay tuned for another eggplant recipe, one that’s been a favorite of my family for generations…