Roasted Chinese Eggplant with Balsamic Marinade

(6 votes)

4 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
5 Chinese eggplants (about 8 ounces each, 1 1/2 pounds total), stem end trimmed but with calyx left on, cut in half lengthwise, and flesh scored deeply in a diamond pattern

Place rack in lowest level of oven. About 20 minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 F.

In a mortar with a pestle, or on a cutting board with a knife, smush the garlic with the salt and pepper until it is a smooth paste. Put the vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in the paste until it is smooth. Whisk in olive oil until smooth. Pour mixture into an 18 x 13 x 2-inch roasting pan. Put the eggplant in the pan. Rub mixture all over, especially into the cut flesh. Arrange each half cut side down in the pan.

Leave eggplant to marinate at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours. Roast until browned, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the freshness and size of the eggplant. I like them cooked a full 30 minutes to get a maximum of browning and caramel flavor. When stuck with the tip of a sharp knife, the eggplant should be soft throughout--there should be no resistance.

Eggplant may be served warm from the oven or made ahead and served at room temperature. If made ahead, reheat briefly in a 500 F oven about 10 minutes.

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