I love eggplant. At this time of year, when everything else is captivating and vibrant in color, no one ever says, "I just had the sweetest, juiciest eggplant!". Still, the mellow eggplant is so tasty while she's young, so what are you waiting for? Like most recipes I love, this one is much more about the method than anything else. The salsa verde, for lack of a better term, could be livened up with a fine dice of Fresno chile or maybe sweetened a bit with flecks of sundried tomatoes. Hate anchovies? What's wrong with you? Kidding! Just leave them out (or use olives). Not into mint? Seriously? Kidding again! Use basil. Really, the thing I love most about this preparation is you throw the eggplant right onto a hot grill (or grill pan, in my case) without any of that tedious salting/rinsing/drying business.
Like I said, this is more of a method based recipe and could be used with other veggies; zucchini, for example, would be great this way. When I made this, I used about 1 cup loosely packed parsley, 1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, 2 T capers, 2 flat anchovy fillets and 2 half-dollar sized sun dried tomatoes. The herbs I chopped pretty fine and the capers, anchovies and sun dried tomatoes were finely diced. To this, I added about 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil. This type of sauce I like to mix up and let the favors meld together a bit. I also seasoned the salsa with some chili flake and a pinch of sea salt (use a bit more salt if you have omitted the anchovy). This is a taste as you go scenario since it will change in flavor as it sits. Remember: you can always add more salt but you can't take it away.
Get yourself organized with your sliced eggplant (with a few thin strips of skin removed), the salsa verde and a shallow dish with about 1/2 cup of balsamic in it. So, like I said, onto the grill they go, naked as they came. Make sure the grill or pan is clean, well oiled and really HOT (keep an eye on your charcoal grill temp). It took me about 10-15 minutes, flipping when needed, to achieve the proper charring and done-ness. Remember, the only thing worse than hating anchovies is undercooked eggplant. Now, here is the great part of this recipe and the reason these little beauties end up tasting so fantastic: straight from the grill they go into a waiting bath of balsamic vinegar. Let them sit for a few seconds on each side so they can soak up a little vinegar and cool down before transferring to a plate or platter. Continue grilling and dipping until they are all cooked.
When all of your eggplant rounds have been properly cooked and bathed, give each piece a little schmear of your prepared herby salsa. I did this with my first batch as I waited for the second batch to cook and so on until all were cooked and dressed and waiting for me on a platter. By the end, I had one a tablespoon or so of balsamic left, so I poured it on top, too. Have a little taste now, if you like, and adjust the seasonings if necessary, and baring in mind if you'll be eating these cold, they'd like a little more salt. Let the whole bit cool to room temperature and then wrap in plastic and refrigerate, the longer the better, but definitely 2 hours or up to 3 days.
This makes such a great side dish. You will be the star of your next potluck or bbq if you bring this dish. I imagine a slice of this on top of a burger would be so good! Or atop a lamb burger with some yogurt or feta? Obscene! We enjoyed this along side slices of roast leg of lamb and showed enough restraint to have leftovers for making eggplant/mozzarella sandwiches the following day. Enjoy!