Grilled Eggplant with Cumin-Basil Yogurt Sauce

Seattle being Seattle (read: located above the 47th parallel), we are expecting almost 16 hours of sunlight on the summer solstice this week.  These long hours of light don’t always herald summer’s arrival, though.  We usually say that summer starts after the Fourth of July in Seattle.  We hope.

You know what else doesn’t start until July?  My CSAs.  Yes, that’s right, plural, CSAs.  Two big boxes of gorgeous produce–one mostly fruit and the other mostly veggies–for twenty weeks.  I can’t wait.

For those of you in the Seattle area who haven’t thrown your lot in with a CSA yet, there are lots of great options in our area, but I truly love the two that we are getting this year.  The first is from Tonnemaker’s organic farm and orchards, which provides a weekly box of unbelievably fragrant and impossibly delicious summer fruit: cherries, apricots, peaches, melons, pears, and apples were some of the highlights last year.  They grow many varieties that I had never heard of, let alone tasted, and a few months of their fruit was enough to make me truly mournful about having to get through the winter without it.  Tonnemaker’s is located in Eastern Washington, so they also provide some of the hot-weather produce that we’re starved for on this side of the Cascades: Tomatoes!  Eggplants!  Peppers!

The other CSA, our old standby now, is Nash’s Organic Produce.  They’re located out on the Olympic Peninsula, but they deliver to a few Seattle farmers markets.  Nash’s hooked us years ago with the Sweetest Carrots I Know, then reeled us in with greens galore and broccoli that tastes like a different vegetable from what you buy in a store.  Nash Huber and his team are also known for their activism and innovation in environmental conservation and protecting farmland, for which Nash received the 2008 Steward of the Land award from the American Farmland Trust, so that’s nice too.

Of course it’s not too late to sign up for either CSA!  Just click those links above (or–you’re so lazy!–click here for Tonnemaker’s and click here for Nash’s).  And once those boxes start rolling in, we’re going to be in veggie heaven around here.

In anticipation of summer vegetables, I grilled a couple eggplants based on this recipe from Food and Wine that my mother-in-law recommended.  I could have eaten the marinade with a spoon, but it was quite subtle in the finished dish, so if you want to take the easy way out you could just sprinkle the eggplant with olive oil and salt.  Most of what you’ll taste here is the smoky eggplant and cooling yogurt sauce with a background of cumin and big, herbaceous basil flavor as you crunch into the torn leaves.  In other words, it tastes like summer.

Grilled Eggplant with Cumin-Basil Yogurt Sauce: On a rimmed sheet pan, mix 4 Tb. olive oil, 2 Tb. lemon juice, 1 Tb. soy sauce, 1 tsp. curry powder and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste).  Slice a couple of eggplants into 1/2″ slices and spread them out on the marinade, then flip them to coat the other side.  Set aside for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together 1 1/2 c. plain yogurt, 1/2 c. coarsely chopped basil, 2 tsp. ground cumin, a minced garlic clove, a big squeeze of lemon, and a few good pinches of salt.  Let stand until eggplant are cooked, then taste and adjust the flavors before serving.

Grill eggplant slices on medium-high heat about 4 minutes on each side, turning 90 degrees after 2 minutes if you want cutesy grill marks.  (The eggplant slices should release easily from the grill after a couple of minutes; if they don’t, you can give them a little longer and/or consider turning up the heat.)  Transfer grilled eggplant to a 400 degree oven until completely tender, about 10-15 more minutes.  Serve with yogurt sauce.


25 thoughts on “Grilled Eggplant with Cumin-Basil Yogurt Sauce

  1. StefanGourmet

    Interesting idea to grill first and then in the oven until tender. I’ve found that eggplant cooks easier and with less oil by salting them first (for a bit longer than the 15 mins indicated). Grilled eggplant is also good Japanese style with a soy & ginger dipping sauce. Mmmm, love eggplant!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Interesting, I usually don’t salt mine because I think I prefer the texture if it retains more moisture (I think of it as meatier/chewier). But next time I will do a side-by-side comparison again (like the roasted cauliflower) and report back!

  2. Tammy

    Oooh, I cannot wait to try this recipe! I have some great eggplants to cook up from the organic farm stand my daughter works at in the summer. We are so fortunate to receive the “leftovers” at days’ end, but they are still quite high-grade specimens. So this recipe is just asking to be tried today!
    And thank you for such a lovely write up -happy Solstice to you and yours!

    (By the way, here in Vermont, we have a similarly short season of sunlight but I’m soaking it up!)

    1. emmycooks Post author

      How fun to have a steady supply of organic vegetables all summer! And how nice for your daughter to spend the summer in the company of veggies–I was at a farmers market yesterday and the smell of the basil was heavenly.

  3. Hannah

    Hi Emmy – this is a lovely recipe! Grilling eggplant is my favorite way to enjoy it and combined with the yogurt sauce sounds divine. The sun is out today so perhaps we’ll have a sunny solstice? At any rate, I’ll be pulling the barbecue out to make this one. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Michelle

    OK, so having a fruit CSA would make up for them not starting until July. Lucky! We did 2 (mostly) veg CSAs a couple of years ago. Funny story involving the divorce of the farmer couple we started with. It was actually fun. An intricate puzzle every week: How in the world are the 2 of us going to use up all this produce? The only thing I disliked about it was that we really couldn’t buy anything at the markets. No matter how much we might’ve wanted to.

  5. Erina

    This looks great! Another one I love is grilled eggplant with fontina cheese and arugula, drizzled with balsamic!

  6. Sarah

    Yay, another way to cook eggplant! Haven’t been impressed with it on the grill before, but never thought to finish it up in the oven. That is the key, I think!

  7. Holly | Beyond Kimchee

    Lovely eggplants. I am the only one in my household who will eat eggplant. I wish they eat eggplant so that I can cook more often. Grilling is great way to enjoy the eggplants. The cumin-basil yogurt sauce sounds perfect for the summer.

  8. hännah

    Lately, I’ve been re-thinking my (previously unfavorable) stance on eggplant. This looks just wonderful for converting a former eggplant-hater like me! I’m ready to fire up the grill now.

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