For all you vegetarians out there (yes, both of you), I have an easy recipe for griddled eggplant on today’s Acadiana Table that will rock your world. Now, for the rest of us this dish is just as good as a side accompaniment for a grilled pork chop or even a before dinner appetizer. It is eggplant as you’ve never had it before.
To be exact, we are talking about spicy griddled eggplant with a Cajun meets Indian flavor profile. If you were to take a poll on the hottest cuisine on the planet, I would guess that pungently spiced Indian food would wind up in a tie with down-home Cajun. And I think they’d be wrong on both counts. Spicy yes, hot no.
To me, Louisiana cuisine isn’t really that pepper hot but the perception of most is that it is intolerably hot (even boiled crawfish can be ordered mild). I think the proliferation outside of Louisiana of so-called Cajun dishes on restaurant menus with cayenne pepper-spiced recipes is the culprit in perpetuating this belief. And, on the other hand, I doubt that Indian food deserves the rap it gets. From my limited experience, Indian food is more pungently spiced with aromatics than pepper hot. And I think this dish dispels those misconceptions after just one bite.
Here, I’ve taken thick-sliced graffiti eggplant and brushed it with olive oil infused with my Sweet Heat spice blend. And the key to sending this dish over the top is the perfumed Meyer lemon and parsley-laden vinaigrette that coats the dish with a fragrant finish. I grow a limited amount of fresh herbs in my small garden, but parsley is a mainstay. And my sweet little lemon tree yields juicy citrus year after year. You can’t get any fresher.
Try this dish and surprise your friends with an unexpected flavor combination.
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon. cayenne
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 eggplants, washed and stemmed
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Sweet Heat seasoning
- 4 thin slices lemon
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all spice ingredients together and place in an airtight jar.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Cut the eggplant into ½-inch thick rounds and place on a large baking tray. Spray the eggplant top and bottom with olive oil spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until all eggplant rounds are partially cooked through. Remove from the oven.
- In a mixing bowl, add the olive oil and seasoning. Stir to combine.
- In a large stainless steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, spray with more olive oil spray. Add the eggplant slices along with the slices of lemon and brush the tops lightly with the seasoning. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and brush the other side and cook until the tops are crispy and browned. Prior to serving, mound the eggplant rounds inside a clean skillet and move to an oven set on warm (150ºF).
- In a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, mustard, sugar and black pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until an emulsion forms. Add the chopped parsley and keep at room temperature for later use.
- Just before serving, drizzle the crispy tops of the eggplant with the lemon parsley vinaigrette. Garnish with the grilled lemon slices and serve family style in the center of the table.
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