Marinated eggplant, a highlight of Greek meze platters, has a surprisingly creamy texture and a deep yet tangy flavor. However, many recipes we tried turned out overly greasy, with accompanying flavors that were either muted and dull or so strong that they overwhelmed the eggplant. We wanted a recipe that would keep the eggplant in the spotlight, with a complementary, brightly flavored marinade. To start, we experimented with cooking techniques: We tried frying but found that the eggplant absorbed too much oil; pan frying in batches required too much time for a simple side dish; and roasting yielded either leathery eggplant skin or under-cooked and tough flesh. We found that broiling was perfect; we could achieve flavorful browning on the eggplant and it cooked through nicely. To encourage even more browning, we first salted the eggplant, which drew out excess moisture. As for the marinade, a Greek-inspired combination of extra-virgin olive oil (using only a few tablespoons kept the eggplant from turning greasy), red wine vinegar, capers, lemon zest, oregano, garlic, and mint worked perfectly. When making this dish ahead, we found that the flavor was far better if we brought the eggplant to room temperature before serving. This dish is great as part of an assortment of appetizers or as a vegetable side to any protein. We prefer using kosher salt because residual grains can easily be wiped away from the eggplant; if using table salt, be sure to reduce all of the salt amounts in the recipe by half.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- Total Time: 2 Hours
- 1½ pounds Italian eggplant, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
- Kosher salt and pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- Spread eggplant on paper towel–lined baking sheet, sprinkle both sides with ½ teaspoon salt, and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Adjust oven rack 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Thoroughly pat eggplant dry with paper towels, arrange on aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet in single layer, and lightly brush both sides with 1 tablespoon oil. Broil eggplant until mahogany brown and lightly charred, 6 to 8 minutes per side.
- Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, capers, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add eggplant and mint and gently toss to combine.
- Let eggplant cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Season with pepper to taste, and serve.