The Ultimate Gluten + Dairy-Free Summer App: Eggplant Bruschetta
This recipe was a serious staple in our house for a solid year (at least for as much of it as tomatoes were somewhat available/in-season). I’m not sure why we stopped, but I think we might have to get back in the habit of making it because it’s such an awesome side or meatless main dish.
There’s nothing quite as good as a fresh ripe tomato, and the flavor is complemented nicely with aged balsamic and good olive oil. Add in a punch of red onion and some garlic, and you’ve got yourself some crave-worthy bruschetta topping. Now, rather than serving it on a crusty baguette a la traditional bruschetta, I decided to switch things up and add bonus vegetable into the mix and serve it over grilled eggplant. This combination might just be better than the traditional.
I’ve always loved eggplant for its meaty texture and smoky flavor, especially when grilled. If you don’t have a grill or a way to grill outdoors, don’t worry! I have an outdoor grill that I love to use when it’s nice outside, but in the winter or when I’m feeling a bit lazier, I pull out my cast iron grill pan, which gets the job done perfectly.
The hearty, smoky eggplant juxtaposed with the refreshing tomato topping works so well together in this recipe.
Every time I make it I’m reminded of warm summer nights, grilling outside, long-lasting golden sunsets, fire pits, and farm-fresh produce (all of my favorite things!). There’s something very nostalgic for me about this recipe, even though it doesn’t necessarily tie me to a specific moment, more just a type of moment, which, for me, is just as powerful.
I recommend making the tomato topping ahead of time, as the flavors intensify as they all sit and marinade together. So, go ahead and chop your tomatoes and mix in the seasonings, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, a few hours before you plan to serve the dish, and then refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
I also recommend doing the eggplant in batches if you’re using a grill pan since they’re not very big, so give yourself enough time to grill all of the eggplant rounds.
And that’s pretty much all the tips I have for you since this is otherwise one of the easiest hors d’oeuvres, side dishes, or meals you can throw together. Enjoy those summer feels as you’re making them!
- 1.5 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP aged balsamic vinegar (the good stuff!)
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- 1 clove diced or pressed garlic
- 2 TBSP finely diced red onion (add more or less depending on preference)
- 1 large eggplant
- Avocado oil to coat the grill pan, plus a little more to brush on the eggplant rounds before grilling. (No need to oil the grill if using a typical outdoor grill.)
- Quarter the cherry tomatoes and place in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add in diced onion, pressed/diced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, basil, and a pinch of salt, and carefully fold together until combined (be gentle so that the tomatoes don't get too bruised and battered).
- Set aside to marinade for an hour or so.
- Meanwhile, heat a grill pan coated in avocado oil.
- Cut the eggplant into rounds.
- Lightly brush each round with a tiny bit of avocado oil (optional).
- When the grill pan is hot, add the eggplant rounds to the pan to cook. Flip each round after about 3 minutes, then cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes, or until soft.
- Assemble the bruschetta by topping each grilled eggplant round with the tomato topping mixture.
- Add dairy free cheese or feta as an optional topping.