Perfect as an appetizer or a side dish to a dinner, a barbecue or even brunch, this recipe is packed with bright and fresh flavours and is sure to quickly become a crowd pleaser!
Before I tell you the story behind this dish, I thought I would give you a quick explanation of what a gremolata is. Traditionally from Milan, Italy, a gremolata is a herb condiment that is made out of fresh parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Of course, like any classic recipe, there are countless variations of a traditional gremolata. Some people like to add nuts to it for added heartiness while others like to add a touch of sweetness with dried fruits as well as a touch of heat with spicy peppers. All that to say, the variations are truly endless. One thing all gremolata have in common: they are delicious and accompany beautifully almost all roasted or sautéed vegetables.
Now that you know a little bit more about what a gremolata is, I thought I’d tell you a little more about how this dish came to be. It is kind of funny how most of the recipes I plan to make in my head always turn out different when it comes time to actually bring them to life. Because the asparagus season has officially begun here in Montreal, I thought it would be the perfect occasion to make some juicy oven roasted local asparagus and top them with a tangy and nutty gremolata.
The day I did the groceries for this shoot, I literally had to go to 3 different grocery stores around me to find asparagus at a good price. Unfortunately, they were quite pricy everywhere and as I was about to completely renounce to the idea of making this recipe, I saw two eggplants on sale for $1.49! Part of me was quite bummed that my initial plan did not work out, but at the same time, I thought, “why not practice what you always tell other people to do: be creative in the kitchen!”
So I got those eggplants and headed towards my kitchen to test the recipe. Lo and behold, magic happened! ACTUAL MAGIC!
It is very rare for me to qualify my food of magical, but this recipe falls in that category. With just a few simple ingredients, I created a side dish that I know for a fact I will be making over and over again for years to come!
This dish is incredibly flavorful! The roasted eggplant is kind of chewy and smoky whereas the gremolata is fresh and has a lovely tang from the lemon and lemon zest. I also love the addition of the roasted pistachios in this recipe. They add a nice texture to the gremolata as well as a perfect touch of richness. Yep, it’s heavenly. Trust me.
A FEW NOTES ON THE RECIPE
Do not skip the step of letting the eggplant slices sweat! This is a MUST! Sweating your eggplant removes the bitterness that develops when an eggplant is cooked.
This dish can be eaten warm, at room temperature and even cold! This may come as a surprise to you like it was to me, but I tasted the recipe right when the eggplants came out of the oven, after my shoot when they were at room temp and right out of the fridge. All three times it was delicious. This is awesome because it means that you can make this recipe in advance! Just make sure to keep the roasted eggplant slices and gremolata separately and plate together before serving.
Roasted pistachios really make a difference! They add a level of depth and smokiness that really complements well the acidity of the lemon.
If you don’t have eggplants on hand but only have asparagus, use them! As mentioned in the article, this was my initial idea and I am sure the result will be phenomenal. You will just have to reduce the roasting time by about half.
As I said before, this recipe is really a gem! It was a huge hit with my boyfriend and will absolutely become a staple in our house. Now, I hope you give it a try too and let me know how you like it in the comments below. Also, feel free to share this recipe or your creations on Instagram by tagging me (@muriellebanackissa).
Roasted Eggplant with Pistachio Gremolata
Prep time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 20 minutes
Total time : 30 minutes
Yield : about 4 servings
2 eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2 cm strips
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper, to taste
5 garlic cloves
1 packed cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper, to taste
Slice eggplants and place in a colander. Place the colander in the sink and sprinkle slices with 1 tablespoon of salt. Let sweat for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
After 15 minutes, rinse the eggplants and pat dry with a clean kitchen cloth.
Arrange on the baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake for 20-30 minutes or until beginning to brown and flipping halfway through.
While the eggplant is baking, prepare the gremolata.
Add garlic into a food processor and process until minced.
Add the remaining of the ingredients and pulse until chopped. I like to have a mix of bigger and smaller pistachio pieces.
To serve, arrange eggplants onto a dish and top with gremolata. Enjoy!