this recipe for grilled eggplant with tzatziki, feta, and mint came from a reader request for more recipes that use the tzatziki sauce that we first met back in the recipe for chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce. always happy to hear from you about what you want to see more of – and because the tzatziki sauce *is* delicious – i set about brainstorming new ways to use the sauce.
in short succession, i came across two different recipes that included both grilled eggplant and then other ingredients that seemed like they would play well with the flavors in the tzatziki sauce. i took this as a sign that grilled eggplant was meant to be included and started playing around with the other flavors.
the first recipe i tried was ottolenghi and tamini’s recipe for ‘chermoula eggplant with bulgar and yogurt’ from jerusalem. now, in fairness to their recipe, when i say that i didn’t love it, what i mean is that after i changed a lot of the key ingredients (because, preserved lemon), i didn’t love my franken-recipe.
but i also suspected i might not be the only person who didn’t have a jar of preserved lemons within arms reach, and i wanted something we could make with just our regular grocery store ingredients. because it’s summer, and my enthusiasm for driving around in a hot car (yes, it does have air conditioning and no, i prefer not to use it… why do you ask?) is low.
luckily the second recipe that i had found was in the magazine that hannaford (my local grocery chain) gives out. and, unsurprisingly, they don’t include ingredients that they don’t sell (in their air conditioned store that i visit weekly anyway). so already we were off to a better start.
except that their recipe didn’t include any tzatziki or anything like it. but it did have tzatziki’s friends, namely feta, mint, garlic, lemon, scallions, and (in a twist i wouldn’t have thought of but really like), pistachios.
i took that as a good sign and forged ahead, mixing up a batch of tzatziki and adding some feta to the sauce, for even more yumminess. then i mostly-ish followed their recipe, kind of. i was initially skeptical of the microwave-the-garlic-and-oil situation but it totally worked and i’m happy to have that trick in my back pocket now.
overall, i was really pleased with how the grilled eggplant with tzatziki, feta, and mint turned out. AND it reminded me how good grilled eggplant is, so we’ll be enjoying that again soon, with a totally different set of ingredients and flavors. in the meantime though, i’m really glad for the encouragement to find new uses for the tzatziki. so, tell me, what else do you want to see here?
pairs well with/using up leftovers:
obviously, chicken gyro with tzatziki sauce is a great way to use up leftover sauce, as is chicken gyro lemon zest rice salad. the flavors are also very similar to those in both the quinoa with grilled zucchini and the grilled zucchini and onions with mint and feta, so you also use the sauce with either of those recipes too. all of these recipes are pretty flexible, i’d just say to adjust the quantity of feta that you add if it’s already in the tzatziki, if you’re sensitive to salt or the sharp flavor of feta.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium-large eggplant (mine was was 22 oz. / 626 g.), sliced into ½” (1.25 cm) rounds
- dash crushed red pepper
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh mint
- 30 g. (1 oz. / ¼ cup) roasted and shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 57 g. (2 oz. / ¼ cup) plain 2% greek yogurt
- 57 g. (2 oz. / ¼ cup) light sour cream
- ½ cup cucumber, seeds removed and cut into small dice (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 28 g. (1 oz. / ¼ cup) crumbled feta
- in a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the tzatziki sauce and stir well to combine thoroughly. set aside.
- heat the grill to medium, then clean the grates (i didn’t find it necessary to oil mine – the oiled eggplant wasn’t prone to sticking.)
- in a small microwave safe bowl, combine the oil and garlic. microwave for about 20 seconds (1,100-watt microwave), until the garlic is fragrant and softened. using a pastry brush, lightly coat each side of the eggplant slices with the oil, leaving the garlic and a little bit of the oil behind in the bowl. add a dash of crushed red pepper and the zest and juice of a lemon to the bowl with the oil and garlic; stir to combine.
- arrange the eggplant slices on the grill in a single layer and cook, covered, until nice grill marks develop on the underside, about 5 minutes. use a spatula to flip the slices over and grill until the second side also has nice grill marks, about 4 – 5 minutes more. remove eggplant slices from the grill.
- if you’re going to eat all of the eggplant at once, arrange it on a serving platter in a slightly overlapping pattern, then put a bit of the lemony garlic and some tzatziki on each slice. sprinkle the scallion, mint, and pistachios over the slices. serve warm or at room temperature. if you anticipate having leftovers, they taste better later if you only dress the eggplant slices as needed, that way you can briefly warm the eggplant slices in the microwave before topping with the tzatziki, etc. if you end up with assembled leftovers, they’re also good, and it’s up to you whether you eat cold eggplant or warm tzatziki (i opted for cold eggplant with the photo shoot leftovers).
cucumbers – in the winter when all of the cucumbers are meh, i use the english (plastic wrapped) variety as they are seedless. in the summer when there are lovely local cucumbers to be had, i use those and seed them (or not, honestly). either way, i never peel them.
the tzatziki makes plenty of sauce. see above for other recipes that also use the sauce or consider making a 2/3 batch.
vegan/dairy free version: omit the tzatziki sauce. increase the olive oil to 3 tablespoons and top each eggplant slice with a bit of oil, in addition to the garlic and lemon zest.
adapted from the grilled mediterranean eggplant salad in hannaford’s fresh magazine, may – june 2017 issue.
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