I spend a good lot of my spring, summer and fall weekends on my friend Jocelyn’s roof. Not only do we get to catch up with friends, drink an unthinkable amount of pink wine and/or Pimm’s cups, shoot awesome pictures of sunsets, Joc has a consummately awesome grill, allowing us all of the summer deliciousness we’re deprived of in our Manhattan apartment. It’s a good deal if there ever was one.
However, some weekends Jocelyn goes out of town. And occasionally, Alex and I have family or other friends to go see. And sometimes, we go a whole two or three weeks without making it onto Joc’s roof, and it makes us very sad. Because we miss the grill.
Which brings me up to the purchase that broke the Smitten Kitchen’s back: our new grill pan. The history of this is that pretty much any time I ever say to Alex, “ooh, look at this [kitchen item]! We should get it!” his standard response is “That’s great, honey. But where will we put it?” To which I respond, “Blah, blah, blah… We’ll FIND a place.” And you know what? We usually do. (Please don’t ask about the wedding cake pans in Alex’s closet. It’s a best-not-touched-on subject.)
But this grill pan doesn’t fit anywhere. And it weighs a metric ton. And it might literally be the first time in Smitten Kitchen history that I will admit that Alex was right: maybe we should have figured out where it went before I bought it. Right now it lives on the floor under the single cart/counter with god-knows-what and its good friend, I’d-rather-not-think-about-it. This is not an ideal long-term solution.
But it does save us when we’re itching for a barbecue and lack an invitation for one. I was going to save this grilled eggplant with caponata salsa, a delicious Dorie Greenspan recipe from a Bon Appetit summer entertaining article, for a real, outdoor barbecue but once Alex brought home an eggplant from the farmers market, it was so pretty, I couldn’t wait any longer.
And you know what? I’m glad we didn’t. It was so awesome cooked on an indoor grill, I can only imagine how amazing it would be with real wood smoke and charcoals under it. And the “salsa”–hold me–it’s so good. So unbelievably tasty that I would say it was a third gone before we even got to eating it for dinner. This recipe is a home run, no matter where you grill it. It might even alone justify the purchase of something a little too big for your tiny kitchen’s britches. Maybe. I mean, I wouldn’t push it or anything. Uh, until next time.
One year ago: Summer Berry Pudding
1 12-ounce container grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia or Maui onion
5 large green olives, pitted, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano plus sprigs for garnish (woops, we forgot this)
1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 to 13/4 pounds), trimmed
Mix tomatoes, celery, onion, olives, chopped oregano, capers, garlic, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl. Whisk red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in small bowl; pour over tomato mixture and toss to coat. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. (Caponata can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Peel eggplant lengthwise to create alternating 2-inch-wide intervals of peeled and unpeeled skin. Cut eggplant crosswise into 6 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Brush eggplant slices with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant slices until slightly charred and very tender when pierced with knife, about 8 minutes per side.
Place one grilled eggplant slice on each of six plates. Spoon caponata over, garnish with oregano sprigs, and serve warm or at room temperature.