Grilled Eggplant with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese that's covered in a delicious lemon vinaigrette and topped with basil for the perfect meatless meal.
This Grilled Eggplant may just be your favorite vegetarian meal or side dish this summer. Between the tender grilled eggplant, salty feta, sweet tomatoes, lemon vinaigrette, and fresh basil - there isn't too much more you could ask for in one dish. Served it with Basil Parmesan Polenta or Grilled Cauliflower.
As soon as it gets warm, I pretty much want to make everything on the grill and vegetables are always at the top of my list. There is just something magical that happens when you add some smoke and char to your favorite veggies. And if you aren't grilling eggplant yet, it should jump to the top of your list.
When you grill eggplant, this amazing thing happens to the flavor. It gets nutty and I find that it gets slightly sweet, eliminating the bitter taste that eggplant sometimes has. The flavor also gets really enhanced by the smoke from the grill. If you have ever had baba ganoush, it will take on that same subtle, smoky taste. This is further enhanced with the lemon and cumin dressing. Delicious.
We love to serve this as an entree with couscous, quinoa, or over pasta with some extra vinaigrette. It also makes a beautiful and delicious side dish. As a side dish, you will get about 6-8 servings. Pair it with some grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.
How do you grill eggplant?
There are a few key steps to make really delicious grilled eggplant. Here's how:
- Start by cleaning your eggplant and drying it well. It is up to you if you want to peel the eggplant or not. Some people prefer removing the skin since it can be tough or bitter.
- Cut the eggplant in 1/2 inch pieces. You can chop into round "coins" or horizontally into longer planks. I find that planks are easier since they won't fall through the grates of the grill.
- Brush the eggplant with olive oil on both sides and season with salt, pepper, and/or spices.
- Cook on a hot grill for 3-4 minutes per side.
- The eggplant should be tender and grayish in color when it is finished cooking. If it is still white or hard, it isn't ready.
- Note: You can also cook smaller chopped eggplant in a grill basket. It will take 6-8 minutes and you should shake the eggplant a few times. If you decide to grill the eggplant in a basket, you can grill the tomatoes as well.
Do you need to peel eggplant before grilling it?
Whether or not to peel an eggplant is all about personal preference. The skin of the eggplant, especially larger and more mature eggplant, can be tough. It is also sometimes bitter in flavor. Personally, I recommend peeling eggplant if you are using a larger eggplant. However smaller eggplants have more delicate, sweeter skin and there is no need to peel them.
How to make sure eggplant isn't bitter
The best way to avoid bitterness in eggplants is to purchase baby eggplant or smaller, less mature eggplants. As eggplants age, they get more bitter. You can also reduce the bitterness by peeling the eggplant since most of the bitter flavor lives in the skin.
What to serve with Grilled Eggplant
If you are serving this as a side dish, there are so many options for delicious main dishes to serve along with the eggplant.
- Grab some chicken breast and marinate it in the same lemon vinaigrette. Grill it along with the eggplant for a delicious meal.
- Try serving this with some fresh salmon that is grilled with lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Top everything with the lemon vinaigrette and feta cheese.
- For a vegetarian option, grill some tofu, tempeh, or polenta. For a fast option, the tubed polenta is a great option.
- This is delicious with pasta. Chop up the eggplant, halve the tomatoes, add cooked pasta, and serve everything with the lemon vinaigrette.
Recipe Tips for Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta
- Make things spicy by adding some red pepper flakes on the eggplant before grilling. It's also delicious with some harissa whisked into the dressing or served on the side.
- If feta cheese isn't your favorite, just grab a different cheese. Mozzarella, goat cheese, and Parmesan are all great options.
- To turn this into a meal, add some chickpeas or cannellini beans. I like to marinate them in the lemon vinaigrette beforehand to ensure they have tons of flavor.
- Add some extra vegetables by adding grilled zucchini, summer squash, or cauliflower.
- Top everything with some pine nuts, sliced almonds, or walnuts.
Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta
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- 1 large eggplant, sliced (1/2 inch thick)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup reduced fat feta cheese
- 1/3 cup basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp pine nuts (or almonds, walnuts, etc.)
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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