Summertime means grilling galore, making it the perfect time to prepare delicious seasonal foods, like eggplant. You'll likely find these big purple guys at your farmers' market or CSA in late summer. Like tomatoes, eggplants are in the nightshade family and are actually fruits, not vegetables. Because they are soggy, eggplants soak up flavors well, and because they're so dense, eggplants can replace meat as the main dish easily. Grilled eggplant recipes have so many tasty variations. Here are five to inspire your vegan summer cooking.
You do not have to own a grill to enjoy these recipes; they can all be cooked on a grilling or roasting pan. However, grilling will be quicker and feel more summery. Additionally, many eggplant recipes instruct you to salt and press the fruit to remove excess water—no need to do that (unless you want to) in any of these recipes.
1. Baba Ganoush
Probably the second most well-known eggplant recipe behind eggplant parm, baba ganoush is easier to make than you think. This Feasting at Home recipe details how to char and chop the eggplant on the grill using homemade liquid smoke. If you're making it sans grill, check out this recipe from Minimalist Baker. In both recipes, you just cook an eggplant to oblivion, cut it up, and smash the pieces together with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. It's that easy! Now stuff your baba ganoush in a pita, add cucumbers, olives, and greens, and you're set for dinner!
2. Grilled Ratatouille Skewers
This recipe from Southern Living turns the traditional French ratatouille dish into summer-friendly vegetable skewers. Thread together kebabs of eggplant, squash, bell peppers, and onion for a pretty main dish. Brush a "summer sauce" of fresh herbs including mint, basil, and parsley to amp up the flavors. Serve with the carb (or carb alternative) of your choice, and dinner is ready.
3. Stuffed Grilled Eggplant
This stuffed eggplant recipe comes from Kingsford. Carve out eggplants into bowls, then grill mushrooms and the eggplant flesh for the filling. Mix the filling with rice, tomatoes, spices, and parmesan cheese and then grill the filled eggplants for a hearty dish. Feel free to substitute dairy-based parmesan cheese with vegan parm made with cashews and brewer's yeast. You can even make your own from this Simple Vegan recipe.
4. Jamaican Jerk Eggplant
Another recipe from Minimalist Baker describes a jerk chicken-inspired dish that will be a meat-eater pleaser. Cut eggplants lengthwise to create steaks and marinade them with cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cayenne, thyme, garlic, and ginger for a smoky flavor. This recipe is quick—done in thirty minutes from start to finish. Serve your grilled eggplant with rice and lime slices.
5. Grilled Eggplant Tahini Satay Kebabs
Lastly, try out these satay kebabs from Delicious Everyday. The Thai-inspired marinade includes well-known ingredients like tahini, coconut milk, soy sauce, lime, and ginger, but may stretch your palate with kecap manis, a sweet Indonesian soy sauce. (Sub in regular soy sauce with a sweetener if you can't find this ingredient.) To make the dish, mix up the marinade, let the eggplant soak it up, and then grill it on skewers. Serve with your choice of salad.
For even more hearty meat-free meals the whole family will enjoy, follow the Meatless Monday board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!
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Why It's Good
Including more seasonal produce in your family's diet is better for the Earth and your health. Plus, grilling outside is a great way to get the whole family involved in cooking a meal and enjoy summer weather together!