Grilled Baby Eggplant with Mozzarella and Pine Nut Gremolata

Whole baby eggplants become a vehicle for cheese in this super-simple preparation. The fresh mozzarella releases its salty, milky liquid and mixes with the flesh of the eggplant to create a creamy filling. Topped with a crunchy gremolata and drizzle of balsamic vinegar, this is an impressive yet simple side dish.
By / Photography By The Naked South | December 17, 2015

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound baby eggplants (about 5)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed and room temperature
  • Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Preparation

  1. Combine pine nuts, basil, garlic, and lemon zest in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil. Set gremolata aside.
  2. Heat grill to low. Rub eggplant with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant with lid down, turning often, until soft and beginning to shrivel, 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Remove eggplant from grill and let cool slightly. Slice an "X" into the top of each eggplant and open like you would a baked potato. Use a fork to mash the inside flesh and make room for the mozzarella.
  4. Season flesh with salt and pepper and fill each eggplant with cheese. Return to grill. Cover grill and cook until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Transfer eggplant to serving dish. Drizzle with vinegar and spoon gremolata over top before serving.

*Note: Grills vary in temperature, so be sure to look for visual cues, as the cooking time might not be the same. This method of cooking the eggplants whole can also be done in a very hot oven or under the broiler.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound baby eggplants (about 5)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed and room temperature
  • Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
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