Who needs baby backs when you got baby eggplant for the grill this Labor Day
Nothing like finding new ways to cook beautiful veggies like these baby eggplants. Eggplant are great because they lend themselves to different cooking techniques including baking and roasting, but on a day like today where the grill is getting a lot of use, I figured this would be as good a time as any to smoke a few different vegetables.
The great thing about baby eggplant is that no matter the cooking approach, because of their small size cooking time will be minimal relative to cooking the larger ones. The downsize is finding an optimal way to season them. For these baby eggplant the approach I took was to cut them into quarters while leaving them intact at the stem. I used a simple spice mixture including paprika, salt, pepper, and chili powder.
These came out wonderful. I had planned to serve these as a side, but the kids had other plans and eggplant as finger foods/appetizers. They just plucked them right off the plate and ate them as is, popping them into their mouths sans the stems. It didn’t take me long to figure out that they were onto something, so I joined them. Tasty and fun I can get with anyday.
As a tribute to the late Walter Becker, the soundtrack to my Labor Day cook-out is all Steely Dan all day!
Great beats, better eats!
Smoked Spicy Baby Eggplant
- 10 baby eggplants
- 1 teaspoon smokey sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1 cup parsely chopped
Mix spices (reserve a few pinches for serving) and about a tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside
Quarter eggplants lengthwise through rounded bottom avoiding the stem to leave the eggplant intact. Gently pry quarters open without detaching flesh from stem. Season with salt and then add the spice mixture coating the flesh well.
Set-up your grill/smoker for indirect smoking at 375 degrees. Cook eggplants in a single layer, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, about 30-45 minutes total.
Serve eggplants on a plate topped with some oil, remaining spice mix, and parsley, then top with cilantro.