Thursday, September 11

Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade

eggplant red pepper tapenade

I don't know where I went wrong. Three years of high school French and one graduate school semester of reading French, and I can still barely string together an intelligible sentence. C'est terrible!

I have accepted the fact that a French pre-schooler could speak circles around me, but as long as I can say some words, like aubergine, I'm content.

Aubergine doesn't look or sound anything like its English counterpart "eggplant." But, oh, how I wish it did. Let's be honest, could there be a less appealing name than "eggplant"? I mean, it's not an egg or a plant. Plus, phonetically, it's just not pleasing; it's harsh and flat.

, however, flows elegantly out of one's mouth. I daresay it's almost too attractive a word for the vegetable is signifies. (In botanical terms, an eggplant is actually a fruit, but it's cooked and eaten like a vegetable).

Fortunately I'm mature enough to look beyond such petty issues and appreciate eggplant's attributes. A heavy, firm, eggplant with a glossy purple-black skin borders on the regal. And its flesh, though just an unassuming off-white color, becomes enticingly rich and creamy when cooked. Like a chameleon, eggplant has the ability to transform itself: when grilled, it is appetizingly smoky flavored and tender; when fried, it is irresistibly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

My current favorite is Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade. (Here's how to make roasted red peppers.)

The wonderful charred flavor of the eggplant is only enhanced with a boldly flavorful tapenade of savory roasted red peppers, salty olives, and fragrant fresh herbs. Since the flavors of this tapenade improve with time, you can make it a day ahead, then bring it to room temperature before serving. It makes an ideal appetizer for a party since it's easy to assemble and makes an attractive presentation.


I'm bringing a big plate of my Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade to Susan's Blogiversary Party over at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. I just know that girl is gonna be the life of the party!

Also, I'll be sharing some with dear Simona of Briciole who has chosen eggplants, melanzane, for the current round of Fresh Produce of the Month created by Marta of An Italian in the US. First aubergine, now melanzana. It's just too much.

Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade
Serves 8
Print recipe only here.

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 16-20 slices)
enough olive oil for brushing each slice on both sides


1/2 cup finely chopped homemade roasted peppers (or bottled peppers)
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed olives (such as Kalamata and Cerignola)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, mint, oregano, and parsley)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste

4 tablespoons feta or goat cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
additional herbs, for optional garnish
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Mix all of the tapenade ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. (This can be made a day ahead.)

Preheat a grill to high. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the eggplant slices. Grill the eggplant for about 7-8 minutes per side, or until grill marks form and the flesh becomes tender.

Place eggplant slices on a serving dish and top each with a dollop of tapenade. Sprinkle with cheese, toasted pine nuts, and additional herbs. Just before serving, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Note: If you don't have a grill, then you can broil the eggplant slices in the oven instead.

You might also like these other party-friendly dishes:

Chipotle Barbecue Bean and Corn Salad

Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Pie

Fresh Pineapple, Banana, and Pistachio Cake with Rum Icing

Almond Biscotti

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Anonymous said...

How delicious! I just blogged a great eggplant dip. Tis the season.

Kristen said...

Oh I so understand you about French... I've been allergic to it since is spurned it for German in high school. I finally had to learn it when I realized that a good portion of the letters I needed to read for my dissertation were in 19th-century French. I still can't speak it, but I can read it and my eyes always get excited when they run across "aubergine"!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I'm cooking for my book club and just happen to have ALL the ingredients/close proximity -- hmm, hmm, hmm. It must be aubergine destiny --

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Once I learned aubergine, eggplant just doesn't do it for me.
How wonderful to make this ahead! Aubergine seems to be in the air or at least on the blogs. I just bought some as well ;)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Can we start a movement to ban the word "eggplant"? Aubergines for everyone!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

hmmm, i didn't know that about aubergine! guess my french didn't get very far either :) delish dish!!

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Call it whatever you will but it's delicious when prepared correctly. Love the peppers and olives in this combo Susan too!

Anonymous said...

After 3 years of high-school spanish, I was anxious to try something different and decided to study French in college. Halfway through my first semester of French, my professor looked at me curiously during a class when I responded to her in my version of French.

She said, "Are you from Spain?" ...

I sheepishly replied, "no".

Surprised, she remarked, "Oh, but you pronounce everything with a Spanish accent!". I didn't receive an A. Merde!

C'est la vie -- I still appreciate a delicious Aubergine - delicious looking as always!

Darius T. Williams said...

You do know I love you, right? But um...I can't mess around with all. But great pics though.


Anonymous said...

ACtually, I think people in the United Kingdom do call eggplant "aubergine". That makes the word "English" too, the, doesn't?


eatingclubvancouver_js said...

I've been seeing many eggplant recipes lately. This is one of the most elegant, as befitting the aubergine. Great stuff!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Anything you cook, event eggplants looks so good when it's on your blog.

Annie said...

Very nice presentation!
Don't feel bad about the French, I too took 4 years of Spanish in High School and 1 year in College and I can just about answer the simple question of how are you?
It's sad that if you don't use it- you do lose it.

That's why it so important to keep using your culinary skills, you wouldn't want to lose those, (although I seriously doubt YOU would) :)

Manggy said...

I know! Would you even consider naming a restaurant "Eggplant?" Ha ha ha. Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of eggplant but when paired with roasted red peppers, it's bound to be a treat! Yum! :)

Anonymous said...

Gotta love that smoky flavor from grilled eggplants. I'd probably get weird looks if I say "aubergine out loud."

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A flavorful recipe! Grilled eggplant tastes so great! Wonderful!



Simona Carini said...

I love this recipe! It contains all ingredients that I like in a delightful combination. Thank you so much, Susan.

Anonymous said...

Well, it IS a plant (or part of one), and it's kinda egg shaped.

In the UK they typically use the French word 'aubergine' and they also call zucchini 'courgettes' and snow peas 'mange tout'.

Personally I prefer the Italian 'melanzane'. Makes sense to me since the Italians do so many wonderful things with eggplant and we (Australians and I think Americans also) use their term for 'zucchini'.

But, really, an eggplant by any other name would taste as good.

Andreas said...

Amusingly, the OED claims that aubergine comes from the Spanish word for apricot! I can't imagine that makes any more sense than eggplant (especially if you've seen the old heirloom varieties), but I must agree the French is prettier.

As for my high-school-French culinary leftovers, I think pamplemousse every time I see a grapefruit :)

Anonymous said...

The Brits do say aubergine, but no matter what you call them I love them! This looks like the perfect antipasto for a dinner party!

Susan @ SGCC said...

These look marvelous, Susan! Thank you so much for sending them over. I know they'll be a big hit!

Deborah said...

Unfortunately, eggplant is one vegetable (fruit?) that is not used too often in my house. Maybe this recipe will have to remedy that!

Pip said...

I just love them, whatever their name is! With peppers and olives sound really delicious! :P

Stacey Snacks said...

Hi Susan,
As you know, I am an aubergine fanatic! Your appetizer looks beautiful, as always. Reminds me of the caponata that I made last week.

I am blogging from France, but not much eggplant around.....mostly canard and zucchini!


Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

Beautiful photos and charming story, as always, Susan! I agree that aubergine is a much lovelier word than eggplant. I've only recently come to terms with this vegetable, er, fruit. Partly through eating its Asian kin in various dishes Chinatown and partly through finally getting around to grilling it.

On the topic of food names, I'm a big fan of calling arugula rocket.

Anonymous said...

Totally delicious Susan. Grilled eggplant (sorry aubergine) is the best. Nice to see a great preparation especially when bad names happen to good produce!


Patricia Scarpin said...

I prefer "aubergine" to "eggplant", too, also because it is similar in sound to the word in Portuguese (beringela).
I love this dish, Susan!

thepassionatecook said...

stunning pictures and a recipe i will definitely try! sounds absolutely delicious! in austrian, we call aubergines "melanzani" from the italian. also much better than eggplant. we have tons of weird names for food in our dialect, though, calling tomatoes paradeiser (as in "from paradise") and some people call strawberries pineapples...

Peter M said...

Greeks love eggplant, love peppers, a little heat so...'c'est non-brainer" that I would eat this up.

Heather said...

mmm i love eggplant, too! when i lived in italy, my cousin would always make this baked dish that was a lot like eggplant parm except it also had layers of fennel. it tasted sooo good together! i always soak my ep in some salt water to remove some of the bitterness, but other than that, this sounds exactly like something i would eat... and eat... and eat... and eat ;)

Lori Lynn said...

I am a huge fan of grilled eggplant. Your roasted red pepper addition puts it over the top.

Liked your bit on the English pronunciation. Cute Susan!

Prudy said...

This one's a stunner!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I didn't have aubergine in quite a while now. No idea why not, so I best change that!

RecipeGirl said...

A very pretty treat!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the aubergine definitely takes strong flavours well. I love the idea of the pepper tapenade on top. I also had no idea that the aubergine is actually a fruit.

Cynthia said...

Like I was saying to Susan (Well Seasoned Cook), I can't seem to eat eggplant until it has been fire-roasted. Dunno why :(

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Aubergine sounds so much better. I don't cook with it nearly often enough and my few interactions with it have been somewhat clumsy. I absolutely love this presentation though--it looks very lively and flavorful.

Unknown said...

I made these on Friday and they were so incredibly good. My husband is already asking when we are going to have them again. Thanks so much for this recipe. (It was easy too.)

Jeanne said...

You are right - there definitely IS somethign regal about a shiny, purple aubergine... And the transformation when you roast them is just crazy. I really must try this :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

I would never be tired of eating this! This is my kind of food!! I'll be sure to gobble them up at the party!

Brilynn said...

I agree, aubergine sounds so much more elegant than eggplant. I was in French Immersion all the way through to the end of high school so I'm somewhat fluent but I'd like to be able to speak more languages. I tried to pick up Spanish but I think I have to be submerged in the language somewhere to actually learn it.

Anonymous said...

Aubergine is a hot favorite here in India too. We've done a Recipe on Aubergine Masala in 10 steps