Grilled Eggplant Pita
Sometimes I try something that is new to me, and I ask myself why I never did it before. Such is the case for the Grilled Eggplant Pitas in this post. You see, I use the pita, not as a pocket, but rather as a kind of pizza shell to serve the vegetables on top of.
I know I’m not the first person to do this. There is a loads of recipes online using pitas as a sort of pizza. And I have been using naan bread as a quick pizza shell for years.
But until now, it never occurred to me to use a pita bread as quick pizza shell. Perhaps because I am usually using the small four inch pitas most of the time for sandwiches at home. Or perhaps just because my imagination was closed in this direction.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because I changed that here. And I did it all on my grill top, and not in the oven. No heating the house with a hot oven on the humid end of summer days.
I set out to grill a batch of vegetables in a Mediterranean style. Zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, onions. My original thought was as a side dish (that would make a great side by the way), but I decided to turn it into more of a light summer dinner meal for the Elegant Baker and me. And I wanted the whole thing done on the grill.
The first thing to do was to preheat the grill. While that was heating, I prepped the vegetables. I scraped the idea of the zucchini because I thought it would be to heavy on top of the pita with the other vegetables.
I like eggplant, so it was a definite keeper here. Slice the eggplant into about 1/2”(1 cm) slices and laid them on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Next I sprinkled both sides with some kosher salt and set them aside while I finished all the other prep.
Why salt the eggplant? Because that’s they way my mother did it and that’t what I learned. Salt the eggplant to get rid of the bitterness. So I still do it that way. I’ll let you in on a little secret though. I’m not sure it helps the bitterness at all. See, I don’t think eggplants are all that bitter. And there is a reason for that which goes to how eggplants have been bred to be less bitter. There may still be reason to salt the eggplant (seasoning, moisture management, texture) but it isn’t bitterness. If you care to know more, there is a pretty good explanation over at bon appétite
Sometimes I skip the salting part when I’m in a hurry. But I had some time while I prepped the other vegetables, so I went ahead and salted anyway.
For the onion, I like to cut a thick slab of rings that holds together as a single disk while I cook grill them. A slab 1/2” to 3/4” thick should do the trick.
Roasted Red Peppers
With the peppers, I use the grill to help turn them into roasted red peppers. I cut them in pieces to speed the cooking, but you could leave the pepper whole. In an event, put them over the hottest part of the grill, skin side down. Let them cook until the skin is well singed and blackened. Move them into a small bowl and cover with some plastic wrap so them steam in their own heat.
Be sure to season the onion, eggplant and peppers with some kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Once that is done, put them all on the grill. Grill the eggplant and onion about four minutes per side. For the pepper, just let it be for the full eight minutes.
Remove all the vegetables from the grill and place them in a large bowl. Move to a cutting board, and cut them all into medium sized chunks. For the peppers, remove from the bowl, and using the edge of your knife, peel the skin away. It should come easily, and there may be some spots that don’t peel. Don’t fret about it, just clean as best you can.
Once the peppers are peeled, cut them into thin strips. Add them to the eggplant and onion. Also add the tomato pieces and kalamata olives at this time. I don’t grill those, but let the heat from the other veggies warm them. Toss it all together and let it sit for a couple of minutes while you prep the pitas
Grilling the Pitas
For your pitas, this is where they become your ‘pizza’ shell. Brush one side of the pita with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put them on the still hot grill for about 2 minutes, turning ninety degrees to the right about half way through. Grill just the one side.
Bring the pitas back to your work table. With the grilled side face up, divide the vegetable mixture more or less evenly between the pitas. Move back to the grill and put the pitas on the grill, uncooked side down.
Immediately shut off the grill and close the lid. The remaining heat will rewarm the veggie topping, and crisp up the bottom of the pita. You do not want this too hot when you do it, so turning off the grill is your best bet.
Let the Grilled Eggplant Pitas sit under the closed lid of the grill for two minutes. When done plate the individual sized Grilled Eggplant Pitas on warmed plates. Take about half an ounce of good quality feta cheese per pita, and crumble it over the top. Let the heat from the pita soften the cheese without cooking it.
There you have it, and quick, delicious, healthy and easy grilled meal using pita breads and eggplant. Serve immediately and enjoy the warm, salty flavors of this delightful Mediterranean inspired Grilled Eggplant Pita.
Grilled Eggplant Pita
- 1 Medium Eggplant
- 1 Red Bell Pepper Seeded
- 1 Thick Slice from a red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes from whole or grape tomatos
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives halved
- Fresh Feta Cheese to crumble on top
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- 2 whole pita breads 8”
- Slice eggplants into 3/4-in. slices. Place on a cooling rack over a sheet pan and sprinkle lightly salt, turn over and do the other side. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Preheat your grill to achieve a medium high heat.
- While the eggplant sits, place the pepper and onion slice on a plate. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powered. Lightly brush with olive oil to coat.
- When the eggplants are done, blot them dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder then lightly brush with olive oil to coat.
- Moving to the grill, place the pepper (skin side down) and onion, and eggplant on the grill surface.
- Grill, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 4 – 5 minutes per side, slightly charred, turning each piece over just once.
- While vegetables are gilling, brush both sides of the pita breads with remaining olive oil.
- Transfer grilled vegetable into a work bowl and then onto a cutting board. Roughly chopped them together to create a medley of vegetables. Add the chopped tomatoes and kalamata olives and toss together.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and place the pitas on the grill
- Grill one side only, covered, over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned and beginning to char. Remove from grill.
- Layer grilled sides of pitas with grilled vegetables, tomato, cheese and olives.
- Return to grill. Turn the grill off, and close the lid.
- Cook, covered, for about 4 minutes, until tomatoes are gently warmed
- Remove from grill, and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and oregano