Grilled Eggplant with Caper Vinaigrette

grilled eggplant

It's HOT by Seattle standards.  On days like today, I find myself eating just when I'm hungry, and then not very much.  If it's overcast, all I can think about is the next meal.  Anybody know about the psychology of that?

We're headed to a family reunion over the weekend, and I expect most of you won't be around, either.  In case you are responsible for contributing to potlucks or BBQ's, here's one of my favorite summer delights.  It's so beautiful laid out on a platter, and may even win over some eggplant avoiders.

Our gas grill is now around 10 years old, and I really want a new one.  I'm tempted to say "need," but don't know if that's quite true.  Sometimes I go months without coveting any cooking implements, and other times I want everything.  In my coveting phases, I try to remember that being a good and innovative cook has nothing to do with fancy equipment.  I think of all the little kitchens in Southeast Asia where people squat on the floor with a butane burner, wok, and rusty knife, and the delicious food that emerges.  Though I miss the mark frequently, I want to be a contented person.

Contentment is much different than comfort, though.  On this 4th of July, I'm grateful to live in this country and content with my good life.  I'm mad about a lot of things, though--our horrible immigration policy, the torture of detainees after 9/11, the astronomical costs of healthcare, the millions of non-violent criminals locked up as a result of the war on drugs, a system that produces so many working poor folks.  So the 4th is a complicated holiday for me, and I suspect for many of you.  I'm going to celebrate, but I'm celebrating what this country can be, what's possible.  I'm going to celebrate the (someday?) advent of Martin Luther King's dream, that the triple evils of materialism, militarism, and racism will one day be toppled, that we will live in peace with one another.  I'm going to celebrate the possibility that we'll stop discriminating on the basis of gender, race, religion, and every other identifier, and that the gap between rich and poor will disappear.  And I'm going to celebrate the part I have to play.

One of the things that's helped me stay engaged lately is my friend Lynn's blog Rebuilding Democracy.  Across the top of her site, it says "We are dawning a new story.  Living with radical hope." That's part of what I like about Lynn's perspective. She's fiercely informed and urgent, but still has hope.  I was one of the Americans bawling my eyes out with joy on election night and during Obama's inauguration.  But we're not there yet--it's just the beginning.  I disagree with Oprah when she said that MLK's dream had been fulfilled in Obama's election.  Not even close.  But I have more hope than I did a year ago, and that's something.  Happy 4th, everyone.  Keep the faith.

caper vinaigrette

Grilled Eggplant with Caper Vinaigrette
You can grill the eggplant a day ahead of time and pour the dressing over a bit before you plan to serve it.  Some crumbled feta would also be delicious over the top.

3 large eggplants, cut into 1/2" thick slices
olive oil and salt for grilling
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. curly parsley, washed and finely chopped
1/4 c. capers, coarsely chopped
juice of one large lemon
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Fresh mint

Heat grill to medium hill.  Brush eggplant rounds with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill until charred and semi-soft, about 3 minutes/side.  Remove from grill and lay on a platter, overlapping slices.

For dressing, combine garlic, parlsey, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chile flakes.   Whisk olive oil in to emulsify, adding more of any ingredient to taste.  Pour over eggplant, and garnish with torn fresh mint.