This is one of those great stand-by appetizers for a summer barbecue that you can pull together quickly when company drops in. You will likely have most of the ingredients, and the flavors can be tailored to suit your taste. Try it with roasted red or yellow peppers, add sundried tomatoes for extra flavor or grill the bread, instead of baking it, for another layer of smokiness. The eggplant-tomato topping is also delicious spooned over grilled meats.
Grilled Eggplant, Olive and Tomato Bruschetta
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
16 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices baguette
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Flat-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish
Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat. Brush the eggplant slices with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and grill the eggplant slices until tender and charred on both sides with grill marks, about 12 minutes. Set aside until cooled slightly. Coarsely chop the grilled eggplant and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the olive oil onto a baking sheet and dip both sides of the bread slices in the oil to coat lightly. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 12 minutes.
Do-Ahead Tip: The toasts can be made 2 days ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature. The eggplant can be grilled and chopped 1 day ahead; refrigerate in an airtight container. Allow the eggplant to come to room temperature before using.
Toss the eggplant pieces, tomatoes, olives, basil, cilantro, capers, shallots, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium bowl. Season the mixture to taste with salt. You will have about 3 1/2 cups of the eggplant mixture. Divide the mixture evenly among the toasts and sprinkle with Parmesan. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.
Zov’s Kitchen Note: Most of the ingredients can be prepared ahead, just make sure not to mix them together until you’re ready to serve. The herbs and tomatoes should be freshly chopped as oxidation alters the taste. Use any leftover mixture on grilled fish or chicken.
Serves 8 (makes 16).
*Recipe courtesy of Chef/Restaurateur Zov Karamardian.*