Recipe by Sarah Ward
One of the best ways to enjoy fresh eggplant is to roast it. The flavor intensifies and its nutty, meaty taste is delightfully complemented by a smoky undertone of semi-charred flesh. This Roasted Eggplant with Herbed Labneh recipe is perfect either as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or turned into a main dish served with hummus, pita, and a salad or over a fluffy bed of your favorite cooked grain. Roast the eggplants on the grill or in the oven — your choice.
Yield: 4 main servings // 8 side servings
- 2 Meatball Eggplants (medium to large)
- Olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- Smoked paprika
- 1 cup labneh cheese or plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup chopped cucumber
- ¼ cup packed Try Basil (or other basil) leaves
- ¼ cup packed dill leaves
- ¼ cup packed mint leaves
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup additional chopped fresh herbs (same as those above)
- ½ cup pine nuts, chopped walnuts, or sliced almonds
- Flakey salt
Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise. Make several parallel cuts into the flesh a half-inch apart, taking care to not cut through the skin. Make another set of cuts in the same manner, but perpendicular to the first. Rub olive oil all over the cut side and skin of each eggplant. Sprinkle generously with salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika.
Roast eggplants using one of the methods below. While they are cooking, combine labneh or yogurt with cucumber, basil, dill, mint salt, and garlic in food processor bowl. Blend until smooth and herbs are very fine. Refrigerate until eggplants are finished cooking.
When eggplants are ready, remove from grill or oven. Place each half cut-side up on a serving dish. Generously pour herbed labneh over eggplants, then sprinkle with chopped herbs, nuts, and salt. Serve immediately.
Preheat gas or charcoal grill to low heat (about 300-325℉). Place eggplants cut-side down on grill grates or a vegetable grill tray. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes or until eggplants are very soft, skin is wrinkled and slightly collapsed, and flesh is slightly charred. Be sure to check every 10 minutes or so to ensure eggplants do not burn; adjust heat if necessary.
Preheat oven to 375℉. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, coat with a thin layer of olive oil, and place eggplants cut-side down on the sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until very soft and wrinkled. Carefully flip each piece over; if flesh isn’t as caramelized or charred as you would like, put them cut-side up under the broiler for a minute or two. (Be sure to remove any parchment paper prior to broiling.)