You’ll need only a few ingredients to make this easy and delicious Grilled Eggplant with Whipped Feta, Sumac and Mint. I think it tastes best when enjoyed warm and fresh, but you can also prepare it ahead of time and serve it at room temperature. Try it as an appetizer, alongside some of my Chicken Shawarma, or serve it with a salad for a light lunch.
This Grilled Eggplant with Whipped Feta is very much inspired by a burnt eggplant shared by Yottam Ottolenghi in The Guardian. There are just a few small differences in that I don’t add milk to the cheese, prefer mint over dill and use Bomba Calabrese, a spicy Calabrian chile pepper spread, instead of harissa.
Note that because the grilled eggplant is paired with whipped feta cheese, this recipe is not considered Paleo or Whole30.
What You Need for Grilled Eggplant with Whipped Feta, Sumac and Mint
Medium-sized eggplants not only cook faster than larger ones, but they’re also a bit sweeter and mellow in flavour, making them ideal here. Not to mention the fact that they contain less water than larger varieties so you won’t need to drain the bitter liquid inside after cooking them.
If you can find zebra or graffiti eggplants, grab some! They’re strikingly beautiful and have a delicious, sweet flesh. Account for one medium-sized eggplant per person as a portion size.
This spicy chile pepper spread hails from Calabria, Italy. It can be found at many major grocery stores or Italian specialty markets. Each brand, or household for that matter, makes theirs a little different. You can find Bomba made with hot peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, artichokes and herbs packed in olive oil or vegetable oils.
Not only does the mint add a pop of beautiful colour, but it also brings some delicious freshness to the dish. If you don’t have fresh mint, you can use any type of leafy herb you like: parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, or even chives.
Sumac is made from dried berries that have been ground to a powder. It has a deep crimson colour with a slightly acidic, lemony flavour profile. It goes great over grilled meats and vegetables, like this Grilled Eggplant with Whipped Feta.
Can I Substitute This For That?
Think of this less as a recipe and more as a blueprint for a number of variations. You can absolutely make substitutions and play around with flavours.
Try serving the grilled eggplant with Tahini instead of whipped feta for a paleo, whole30 and vegan option.
Instead of the Bomba, serve it with your favourite chile oil or spread. There’s a recipe for Zhug, a Yemenite hot sauce, in my cookbook that would be perfect here! Or, if you don’t like things spicy, you can spoon some garlic aioli overtop.
Larger varieties of eggplants work too. They just take longer to cook and you may have to drain their bitter liquid after cooking.
Don’t like eggplants? Try it with grilled mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, or cauliflower.
Help! I Don’t Have a Grill!
If you don’t have a Traeger, you can roast the eggplants on a sheet pan in a 450F oven, flipping them every so often, until they’re soft and fork-tender in the middle. Cooking times will be more or less the same, but you won’t get the wood-fired flavour you would from a Traeger.
Alternatively, you can char the eggplants over a gas stove burner. The only thing to consider is clean up if they eggplants rupture and start leaking juices.
Grilled Eggplant with Whipped Feta, Sumac and Mint
- 5 medium-sized eggplants graffiti/zebra or Italian
- ½ cup feta cheese plus ¼ cup of its packing water
- 2 tablespoons Calabrian Bomba substitute favourite chile oil or paste
- 1 teaspoon Maldon salt substitute any flakey salt
- 2 sprigs fresh mint around 14 leaves, roughly torn
- Preheat Traeger grill to 500F. Using a fork, poke some shallow holes all over the eggplants. This will help with peeling them after cooking.
- Place the eggplants directly onto the grill towards the back perimeter where it gets hottest. Cook, turning often, until black all over and soft in the middle, around 15 minutes total. Transfer to a wooden board. Using a wooden spoon, slice the flesh of each eggplant in half, keeping the stem intact. Let cool for a few minutes and peel off all of the skin. Keep the stem intact for presentation purposes.
- In a food processor, combine the feta cheese and its packing water. Blend until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of water. If it is too loose, add a bit more feta cheese.
- Spread the whipped feta in an even layer onto a serving platter. Top with the peeled eggplants and drizzle with the Bomba or chile oil. Season with Maldon salt and top with fresh mint. Serve while still warm or at room temperature.