The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Tue Apr 12, 2016

Eggplant Spirals With Greek Yogurt, Tomatoes, and Cucumber

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The spirit of warmer days and lighter eating led me to Vietnamese summer rolls last week, but it's really Greek food that I associate the most with this idyllic weather. Having spent a great deal of my life in a Greek heavy enclave of Queens, I found the bright, fresh flavors of Greek foods to be the perfect compliment to being outside on a pleasant, sunny day. Those flavors served as the influence for these eggplant spirals with yogurt, tomatoes, and cucumber that aren't a traditional Greek dish, but bring together a lot of what makes Greek food so fitting in this beautiful spring weather.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

Any roll needs to start with a vessel for stuffing, and in this case I went with eggplant, whose long shape and easy pliability after being grilled make it an ideal candidate for the task. If you venture back in the archives here, you'll probably find me recommending to salt your eggplant before grilling. This technique helps draw moisture from the fruit which can be helpful in achieving a soft and creamy texture in roasting scenarios, but after side-by-side testing, I found the high heat of the grill is enough to draw moisture out on its own and pre-salting isn't a necessity.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

Give me a bowl of tzatziki and warm, soft pita, and I'll down the whole thing in no time. I wanted to bring that addictive cucumber-yogurt sauce into these rolls, but since I planned on using larger cucumber chunks later on, I modified this filling to serve a slightly different purpose.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

I still started it with a tangy Greek yogurt base and gave it a squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs by way of oregano, mint, and dill. This didn't make it taste fully flavored though, but some garlic helped with that, and then grated feta, which gave the sauce the saltiness it was missing.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

To pair with the sauce and give the rolls substantialness, I relied on a very simple mixture of cucumbers and tomatoes, which I cut into a 1/4-inch dice.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

Next I moved grill-side, where I brushed the eggplant slices with olive oil and gave them a light seasoning of salt and pepper before placing them over the fire. The high heat quickly turned the stiff eggplant into thin, flexible slices with a beautiful char.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

Once off the grill, I covered each eggplant slice with the yogurt sauce, followed by the addition of a single layer of cucumber and tomato atop, and then rolled 'em up.

Greek Eggplant Spirals

The herbs in the sauce went a long way to give these rolls a distinctly Greek flavor that was further enhanced by the tangy yogurt and salty feta. The vegetables delivered an extra hit of freshness and added a pleasing textural contrast to the creamy yogurt and soft eggplant that gave these rolls the exact light and refreshing feeling I associate with Greek food, which now that it's warm out, is something I'll likely be eating a lot more of.

Eggplant Spirals With Greek Yogurt, Tomatoes, and Cucumber

A quick and fresh appetizer or side dish, these grilled eggplant rolls get some Greek love thanks to an herbed-packed blend of yogurt and feta. Diced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers add a little contrasting crunch to the creamy filling.
  • Prep Time:
  • 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time:
  • 5 Minutes
  • Total Time:
  • 35 Minutes
  • Yield:
  • 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • For the Filling
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup finely grated feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
  • For the Eggplant Rolls
  • 2 large eggplants, ends trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 roma tomatoes, stemmed, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Procedure

  1. For the Filling: Whisk together yogurt, feta, lemon juice, oregano, mint, dill, and garlic in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. For the Eggplant Rolls: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush eggplant slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant until browned on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large tray or cutting board and let cool for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Spread a layer of filling over each eggplant slice and top each with a single layer of tomatoes and cucumber. Roll eggplant slices into spirals and serve.

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