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I’ve never been the biggest fan of grilled eggplant until recently. The texture used to get to me, but with experience, I was able to figure out how to cook it properly. Discovering combinations of flavors was a fun process, making many MANY mistakes and a few very delicious successes. Ultimately I landed on fresh, vibrant summer flavors. Pairing grilled eggplant with tender, seared steak and a fresh salad happens to be the ultimate combination of textures and flavors.
Keep it Simple in Summer
Fresh flavors reign supreme during the warmer months. Don’t get me wrong, I love those heavy carb-filled spicy burgers, but the food that makes you relaxed and refreshed remains king. Inspiration for this combination stems from Europe and the Middle East with a punch of herbs and garlic. Seared steak doesn’t need to fight its way through to your tastebuds here, so a sprinkle of salt and pepper will do just fine.
Speaking of steak, today’s choice was the Butcher’s Cut NY Strip from Omaha Steaks. Strip steaks happen to be a family favorite for their ease of cooking, fat content, and tenderness. Now they are 25% thicker? Uhh yeah, I will grill those. Omaha Steaks wet-ages their steaks before shipping them out as well, which means they are absolutely tender by the time they hit the grill.
Prepping Steak and Eggplant
Seared steak and grilled eggplant both have a very similar process for being prepped: Dry-brining. The process of seasoning ahead of time to draw out that moisture is key, especially with eggplant. Water balloons don’t crisp on the grill, so we need to draw out as much as possible ahead of time while also adding some flavor.
- Slice the eggplant thin into 1/4″ slices and generously salt each slice.
- Let them rest for about 15 minutes, laying them out on paper towels.
- Wipe each of the slices to remove as much salt and moisture as possible.
NY Strip Steak Prep
- Pat each of the steaks dry with a paper towel.
- Season generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Allow them to rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
The eggplant takes about the same amount of time to cook on the grill, so it’s pretty convenient for this dish. By the time you’re ready to blot the eggplant dry, you can go fire up the grill and get everything ready. The steak will be waiting anxiously when you come back.
Tips for Grilled Eggplant
Believe it or not, grilling eggplant is also very similar to steak. We already drew out most of the moisture, so now we simply need to sear it. Let’s walk through some steps to make sure you grill some delicious veggies.
- Make sure your grill grates are cleaned and lightly oiled. This step is super critical as eggplants tend to sponge up anything. You don’t want oily, grey eggplants covered with charred bits.
- Lightly brush eggplant with oil before going on the grill. Yes, we just oiled the grill, but we want to make sure the surface of the eggplant chars nicely too. The recipe below shows you we’ll use an oil mixed with fresh herbs to add more flavor.
- Don’t touch the eggplant for a few minutes. 5-6 minutes on each side is typically enough.
- Brush with more oil as needed if you notice they are drying out.
- Be careful with flare ups from the grill! Too much oil and you’ll have unwanted flames.
Oh yeah, the salad.
That’s a word we don’t see often on Chiles and Smoke. It’s here, and it’s an amazing hit of vibrant acidic flavors which brighten everything on the plate. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, lemon, parsley and spices. This is based on a Persian salad, called Shirazi salad. Think of this salad as a cousin of a Mediterranean salad, only with more zing.
The traditional version of the Shirazi salad will use sumac, mint, and other herbs. This one uses cilantro and is topped with feta, to add a burst of salty umami. Feta enhances the the steak as well, using it’s natural salt to boost the flavors.
Pairing grilled eggplant with tender, seared steak and a fresh summer salad happens to be the ultimate combination of textures and flavors.
- 2 Butcher’s Cut NY Strip Steaks
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- (optional) 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/4” slices
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- (optional) 1/2 tsp red chile flakes
Simple Shirazi Salad
- 1 English cucumber (or 2 cups small cucumbers), small diced
- 2 large roma tomatoes, small diced
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp cilantro, diced
- 3 tbsp parsley, diced
- (optional) 3 tsp mint, diced
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Feta cheese for garnish
- Slice the eggplants, salt both sides, and allow them to sit aside on a paper towel for 15 minutes. This helps draw out the excess moisture.
- Season the NY Strips on all sides and allow them to rest.
- Chop up and mix the ingredients for the baste, and also for the Shirazi salad. Set aside.
- Heat up the grill for medium-high heat, set for direct grilling.
- Pat the eggplants dry with paper towel and brush off excess salt.
- Brush the slices with the oil baste, and place the slices with the oiled side on the grill. If using a gas grill, close the lid. Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, or until grill marks appear.
- Brush the tops with the baste and turn the slices over, repeating the process for another 5 minutes. Brush each side as needed with the baste to make sure it stays moist.
- Set aside eggplant when cooked and brush excess baste on for more flavor. Clean the grates for the steaks.
- Grill the steaks for 2 minutes per side, and flip. Just keep flipping every 2 minutes until the temperature is about 10 degrees below preferred doneness. Make sure to sear the fat cap on the side of your steak as well. Remove the steak between 125-130˚F for medium-rare, and allow it to rest under loose foil for 10 minutes.
- Plate the food with the eggplant, slices of steak, salad, and garnish with feta cheese.
Don’t make the salad ahead of time, the lemon will soften it too much. It’s meant to be more crunchy.
Keywords: eggplant, shirazi salad, steak, ny strip, strip steak, beef, grilled eggplant, seared steak, feta