Roasted Eggplant With Balsamic Vinegar & Basil


Eggplant is one of those vegetables that folks either love or hate. There just doesn’t seem to be a middle ground when it comes to eggplant. I personally love cooking with eggplant and use it often in my kitchen, but I do understand why some folks find the texture off-putting. Eggplant also doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own but instead takes on the flavor of other ingredients that it is paired with.

With summer winding down, fresh local eggplant will not be available too much longer, so I bought a few recently at our local Farmer’s Market. I had no real plans for the eggplant, but it was just the right size, felt firm, and looked perfect. When it comes to eggplant, bigger is not better as the larger eggplants will be full of seeds, have a slightly spongy interior, and have a trace of bitterness that requires salting to remove. When choosing eggplants, I look for ones with smooth, shiny skin that are uniform in color and heavy for their size. Choose smaller eggplants as they tend to be sweeter, less bitter, have thinner skin and fewer seeds. Eggplant should be firm but not hard, and the stem end should be green. Eggplant can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

I wanted to use my eggplants as a vegetable side dish because I was grilling pork that night so I decided to just toss it with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and roast it. This method is opposite of what folks usually do as eggplant is most often roasted or grilled and then marinated. This preparation gives the eggplant a complex, earthy flavor that I personally find addictive, and the sugar in the vinegar caramelizes the sugars in the eggplant bringing out a sweetness that is delicious. Once the eggplant has finished cooking, it is tossed with chopped fresh basil and can be served warm or at room temperature.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2018

Roasted Eggplant With Balsamic Vinegar & Basil

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Eggplants (See Notes Above)
  • 1/3 Cup Good Quality Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Place the eggplant in a bowl along with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. Toss the ingredients to coat the eggplant and let rest 10 minutes.
  5. Cover two baking sheets with foil, then spread the eggplant out evenly.
  6. Roast the eggplant, switching the pan halfway, until the eggplant is tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the eggplant from the oven and place on a platter.
  8. Sprinkle the eggplant with the basil and serve warm or at room temperature.