All it takes is a grill and 5 ingredients for this melt in your mouth whole grilled eggplant.
You may be familiar with grilling slices of eggplant in thick rounds—but this is another simple grilled preparation that you’ll fall in love with this summer. You throw the entire eggplant on the grill to slow roast until soft and collapsed, revealing a silky smooth and slightly smoky interior when sliced in half.
Then, it’s finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of flaky sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up, and fresh flat-leaf parsley (a 3-ingreident recipe, not counting your pantry staples). Now that’s what lazy summer dinners are made of!
So, along with my other easy summer favorites, like corn on the cob, this hands off whole grilled eggplant makes its way into my weekly dinner rotation without any extra effort or prep time to worry about.
Tips for Picking Eggplants
This recipe calls for dark purple globe eggplant, most commonly found in grocery stores. When you’re picking out your eggplant, it should feel sturdy and dense with a smooth exterior (steer clear of eggplants with bruises or soft spots).
If you’re serving a crowd, look for eggplants of similar size and weight so they finish cooking at the same time.
This Simple Recipe Shines With Quality Ingredients
Since the amount of ingredients in this recipe is minimal, it’s important to make each one count.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Opt for high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Anything cold pressed will taste great and bring richness to this subtle dish. Plus, it’ll be nice to have in the pantry for future salad dressings.
- Flaky sea salt: Use a flaky finishing sea salt, like Maldon for this recipe.
- Black pepper: Use whole black peppercorns and coarsely grind right before serving for the freshest taste with a natural textural variety that pre-ground black pepper won’t deliver.
This easy eggplant recipe will come in handy whether you’re feeding a crowd this BBQ season or simply getting dinner on the table for two.
- Side dish: Serve it alongside Greek lemon chicken skewers with tzatziki or lamb burgers for a Mediterranean themed summer meal.
- Main dish: Serve this as a main for vegetarian guests at your next backyard bash.
- Party platter: Fire up a few eggplants and serve them on a large platter alongside other grazing plates like hummus and pita, caprese salads, grilled flank steak, and more.
The Perfect Make-Ahead Meal
The eggplants can be fully cooked on the grill up to 1 day ahead. Keep them on a sheet tray, wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and warm them up in a 400°F oven until the inside flesh is smoking hot, 5 to 10 minutes.
Finish the eggplants with the extra virgin olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and parsley as instructed in the recipe.
Great! Store in an airtight container or zip top bag and it will last in the fridge for 2 days.
You can even blend leftover grilled eggplant into dips like hummus or babaganush. From there, grab a bag of pita chips and you’re all set for a delicious snack.
More Eggplant Recipes for Summer Fun!
Whole Grilled Eggplant
One eggplant feeds two people if served as a side dish. If serving as a vegetarian main, use 1 eggplant per person.
Make sure to check for areas on the surface of the eggplant that may need more time on the grill to avoid any less than tender bites.
1 (1-pound) eggplant
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, halved
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Preheat a gas grill to 500°F set to medium-high heat.
Adjust the grill as needed during cook time in order to maintain a temperature between 450°F to 500°F.
Poke slits in the eggplant for steam to escape:
With a sharp knife, poke 10 shallow slits spread out around the surface of the eggplant, this will help steam escape, so the eggplant doesn’t abruptly burst open as it cooks.
Grill the eggplant:
Place the eggplant on the preheated grill using tongs and close the lid. The grill will be smoky, that’s okay, as there is no oil (or fat) to cause a flare up.
After 20 minutes, check on the eggplant. If it looks deflated or sunken in on itself and the grilled side is softened to the touch, it’s ready to be flipped. If not, wait another 5 minutes, then use a pair of tongs to flip it to finish cooking until it’s softened all over and mushy between the tongs, 5 minutes.
Let the eggplant cool a bit:
Once the eggplant is completely cooked through, use the tongs to gently remove it from the grill and onto a cutting board. Let it cool for 2 minutes.
Slice the eggplant and transfer to serving plate:
Slice it in half lengthwise and transfer the halves to a serving plate. Loosely drag a fork through flesh to loosen the eggplant so the eggplant flesh is distributed into the nooks and crannies.
Garnish and serve:
Lightly drizzle the eggplant with extra virgin olive oil and squeeze a lemon half over the top. Season with flakey sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Garnish with parsley.
Taste and adjust with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed.
The eggplant skin will get pretty charred, so we recommend just eating the eggplant flesh.
Store leftovers in an airtight container or zip top bag and it will last in the fridge for 2 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 15g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||11%|
|Total Carbohydrate 64g||23%|
|Dietary Fiber 17g||60%|
|Total Sugars 24g|
|Vitamin C 220mg||1,098%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|