There’s still time for a new summer recipe! Try grilled eggplant burgers with spicy garlic spread. They’re hearty, full of flavor and easy to make. Even houseguests love them!
My nephew is staying with my husband and me this summer. Aside from all the fun that goes along with having a twenty-something male houseguest – ahem – one thing we’ve been dealing with differently is dinnertime.
Picky? Who you calling picky?
When it’s just my husband and me, we’re pretty much in the same ballpark when it comes to food. We know what the other will and will not eat, and how much prodding is required for certain things to make it on the menu. With someone else in the house to consider, things get murky.
When my nephew told us he was a picky eater, I was a little worried. I really wasn’t interested in making two options for dinner. I just wanted everyone to be happy with what was served.
Fortunately, we discovered that he’s not a picky eater. He eats pretty much whatever we make. I think what he really meant was, that he’s picky if he has to cook. Translation: “I’m perfectly happy eating toast or cereal for dinner!”
Tower of taste
The other night I decided to make grilled eggplant burgers with spicy garlic spread. I thought that if there was one thing my nephew might not like for dinner, it could be eggplant. (Some people don’t like eggplant for whatever reason. I’m sure they’d change their mind if they tried these burgers!)
Just a few minutes prepping in the kitchen and a few minutes on the grill, and dinner was ready. These burgers were piled high, with thick Italian bread as the foundation covered with spicy spread. The eggplant was smothered in cheese and the thick, red tomato slices were ready to release their juices. The crowning glory: the round, white onions, lightly sprinkled with vibrant green basil pieces. I was drooling!
When houseguests are like fish
With forks and knives on the table (this is definitely a fork-and-knife burger), we were ready to dig in. I was a little hesitant, waiting to see how my nephew would react. He happily ate the burger. Great! I can make eggplant again without wondering if he would eat it.
When we finished dinner and started cleaning up, my nephew proclaimed, “That was really good. Next time you should add a hamburger to it.” Houseguests!
Recipe for Grilled Eggplant Burgers with Spicy Garlic Spread:
- 1 small eggplant, sliced into 4 or 5, 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 1 large tomato, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (one slice for each burger)
- 1 large white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (one round for each burger)
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices (one slice for each burger)
- 4-5 slices of crusty Italian-style bread (one slice for each burger)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh basil, ribbon cut
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic chili paste (use your favorite hot sauce combined with one mashed garlic clove if you don’t have garlic chili paste)
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- After slicing the eggplant, lay them on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. This will help draw out the bitter juices from the eggplant. Allow them to sit for about 30 minutes.
- Consider using long toothpicks that have been soaked in water for 15-20 minutes, or thin metal skewers, to hold the onion rounds together for grilling. Brush the onions with a bit of the olive oil.
- Combine the mayonnaise and the garlic chili paste, mix well and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat your grill to medium heat. When the eggplant rounds are ready, brush them with a bit of the olive oil, sprinkle with ground black pepper and grill them for about 15 minutes, or until soft, turning them often so they don’t burn.
- About halfway through grilling the eggplant, add the onions to the grill. Flip them so they do not burn, but so they still achieve grill marks.
- When the eggplant is cooked, move them from the grill flame and add the slices of cheese to each, just so it melts. Place the slices of Italian bread on the grill. Flip the bread so it doesn’t burn, but keep them on the grill just for a few minutes. Remove the eggplant, onions and bread and place on a baking sheet. Cover with foil.
- Spread about 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise mixture over each slice of bread and top with an eggplant slice.
- Next add the tomato slice, then the onion rounds. Sprinkle with the basil and serve with a fork and knife.