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Recipe: Barbecued Eggplant Stacks with Coyote Mint Sauce and Chèvre

With summer in full swing, many are making good use of their outdoor grills. Tender grass fed steaks or free range chicken are often the go-to options, but the possibilities for a grilled meal are endless. At the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, a summer favorite is Barbecued Eggplant Stacks with Coyote Mint sauce and Chèvre. Whether you’re a dedicated vegetarian or a meat-eater looking to expand your grilling horizons, you’ll find this dish makes for an easy and filling seasonal meal.

Try out the recipe below and take a look at the over 200 seasonally-inspired vegetarian recipes found in The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook.

Barbecued Eggplant Stacks with Coyote Mint Sauce and Chèvre

Coyote mint, Monardella villosa, is native to the California Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada foothills and is a fabulous drought-hardy plant with purple pompom flowers and potent mint flavor. It is planted in our core-area dry garden and grows wild on the hilly coastal trails between OAEC and the ocean.

While some cooks insist on pre-salting and draining eggplants to draw out the bitter, with garden-fresh eggplant, this is unnecessary. Buy eggplants only in the summer season when they are fresh, not imported from far away.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup coyote mint leaves, or 1⁄4 cup spearmint and 1⁄4 cup oregano
  • 1⁄2 cup parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Serrano chile
  • 3 large eggplants
  • 1 cup soft chèvre
  • Garnish: thinly sliced roasted red peppers or halved cherry tomatoes

Serves 30–40

  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups coyote mint leaves, or 11⁄2 cups spearmint and 11⁄2 cups oregano
  • 3 cups parsley
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 3 cups olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped Serrano chile
  • 20 large eggplants
  • 4 cups soft chèvre
  • Garnish: thinly sliced roasted red peppers or halved cherry tomatoes

Light the barbecue grill, and while the coals are heating up, make the sauce. In a small, dry cast-iron skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they begin to smell nutty. Using a mortar and pestle or herb grinder, crush the seeds, garlic, and a pinch of salt into a fine paste. Add the coyote mint, parsley leaves, and lemon juice and continue processing until a bright-green sauce is formed. Add the olive oil and stir in the chopped chile. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.

Slice the eggplant crosswise into large 1⁄2-inch-thick round steaks—you should get around six slices per large globe-style eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. When the flames have died down to a nice bed of medium-hot coals, grill the eggplant until they’re soft and striped with crispy grill marks. Reserve.

For each portion, layer slices of eggplant with a scant tablespoon of chèvre and a tablespoon of sauce, three stories high. Top with a final, generous drizzle of sauce that runs down the sides, a dollop of chèvre, and garnish with something red for contrast—either a few thin slivers of roasted red pepper or a few halved cherry tomatoes mounded on top.

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