Grilled Eggplants make the perfect Mediterranean side dish for a summer barbecue. They are sooo easy to prepare and can be served with a variety of sauces and toppings. A popular topping for grilled eggplant is a parsley, mint and za’atar sauce, which adds a bright and flavorful contrast to the smoky eggplant:).
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so much with it, roast it, grill it, include it in dips, make side dishes with it, you can stuff it, you can make chips with it and you can even pickle it.
I grew up in Albania, but as in most Mediterranean countries when something is in season you try to consume it in all ways you can, from cooking to grilling and everything in between. We make stuffed eggplants, we make eggplant relish, we include it in a dip called Ajvar etc etc. We can definitely be resourceful:).
Prepping the eggplants
There are couple of ways to prepare the eggplants so they don’t taste bitter. My favorite way is to slice eggplants in about half inch thick (about 1 cm), then I add them to a bowl of water that has plenty of sea salt.
Water will prevent the eggplant slices from browning, while the salt will draw out the bitterness.
A shortcut is to pour thin layer of salt over all the slices of eggplant and let it sweat for a while, then wipe out excess moisture and salt with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
Making the parsley, mint and za’atar sauce
Here’s a simple yet flavorful topping that’s perfect for grilled vegetables. It’s made with parsley, za’atar, mint, olive oil, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper. The parsley, mint and za’atar add a bright and zesty flavor, while the olive oil, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper add depth and complexity. It’s a great way to add some extra flavor to your grilled vegetables. You have to try it this grilling season:).
I use the sauce over grilled peppers, over potatoes and many more vegetables. Plus you can adjust the taste by playing with the quantities a bit to your liking, it’s a very forgiving sauce recipe. For example on eggplants, I add extra salt and garlic to the sauce but on peppers maybe I don’t include the mint and tone down the flavor.
As with chimichurri, you can choose to chop the herbs very fine manually or you can use a food processor with chopping functionality. When I am grilling outside, it’s a lot easier to just chop manually.
How to grill the eggplants?
Start by preheating the grill to medium-high.
Once you have removed the excess salt and moisture from the eggplants, it’s time to season them.
Usually I add them to a large baking tray and brush olive oil over them. If you have garlic confit, brush the olive oil from garlic confit, it adds such a great seasoning to the eggplants.
Add eggplant slices to grill face down and brush the other side with oil. Grill 2-3 minutes on each side until eggplant is tender and slightly charred.
Sonila’s Tips and Recipe Notes
You can use other toppings if you like. Traditional chimichurri or mint chimichurri would be amazing with grilled eggplants. Also tzatziki dip or this yogurt and cilantro dip would be great sides for eggplants.
The key in picking anything to go with grilled eggplants is garlic and olive oil:).
On a gas grill you’ll get faster results and more consistent, meaning you can make a batch almost simultaneously. On a charcoal grill, you have to pinpoint the hotter and cooler areas of the grill and work the eggplants at different speed. Flip the ones on the hotter area faster than the ones on the cooler part of the grill.
We have a dual charcoal and gas grill in our deck and while I love the results of charcoal better, I tend to use the gas grill myself more often and leave the charcoal to my husband as he is more patient than me when grilling:).
Recipe is Mediterranean diet friendly, vegetarian and gluten free!
- 3 eggplants
- 3 tbsp sea salt this salt will not be consumed
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup Italian parsley
- 8 mint leaves
- 1 tbsp za'atar
- 4 garlic cloves
- 0.5 tsp crushed red pepper adjust to taste
- 1 cup olive oil
- 0.5 tsp sea salt adjust to taste
- 0.5 tsp black pepper
- Chop parsley and mint as fine as you can. Add to the mixing bowl. Add za'atar, crushed garlic and salt over the herbs. Add crushed red pepper and black pepper too. Pour olive oil on top and mix. Set sauce aside. For finer results, you can chop the herbs in a food processor and mix the sauce there too.
- Rinse and pat dry the eggplants. Slice them in half inch thick slices. Place the eggplant slices in cold water with sea salt for about 15 minutes. It will prevent the slices from browning as well as it will draw the bitterness out.
- Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.
- Get the eggplants out of the water and place them on a tray, pat dry. Then brush olive oil over each slice.
- Place eggplant slices on the grill face down and brush more olive oil on the other side now. Let grill 2-3 minutes (up to 4 minutes on certain grills). Grill until tender and slightly charred.
- Remove from grill when ready on both sides. Place on a serving platter and top off with the sauce. Let rest few minutes for flavors to coat the eggplants before serving. Enjoy:)
- Grill eggplant sliced for 2-3 minutes on each side until tender and slightly charred.
Yes, when roasted or grilled the skin of the eggplants tastes great. Smaller eggplants are better than the larger ones since the skin of the latter can be a bit more bitter. When I make stuffed eggplants, I usually peel the eggplant in stripes, allowing for some skin to be in but not all.
The salt helps draw out the bitterness and also prevents the eggplants from becoming soggy.
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Additional Grilled Recipes
Feel free to check out some of my other grilling recipes.