Grilled eggplant with sweet and sour bacon chutney brings bold flavor to an easy weeknight dish. Add a crisp green salad on the side to round out the meal with a satisfying crunch. This recipe was inspired by me stumbling upon the most beautiful graffiti eggplant at the farmers market this weekend—vivid, shiny skin and firm green caps—that were basically begging to be thrown on the grill pan and become dinner that night.
Topped with the most wildly flavorful sweet and sour bacon chutney, this dinner quickly became a summer favorite. Eggplants have the dubious honor of being hugely underrated, however they’re incredibly versatile. Think of their flesh as sponges ready to absorb any flavor profile you throw their way, and their glossy skin as durable foils ready to take to any form of high-heat cooking.
Nutritionally, eggplant has an impressive phytonutrient composition, with flavonoids and phenolic acids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, since eggplants are nightshade vegetables, they do possess a compound called solanine that may trigger inflammation in some folks, but more research is needed on these specific reactions. Though I’ll always swoon over grilled planks of eggplant, the real magic lies within the chutney, which masters the balance of savory and sweet with a rich umami punch. A master mix of bacon, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and white balsamic are cooked down to a jammy consistency and rounded out with a dash of soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Spoon it over any vegetable or protein fresh off the grill, or anything in need of an instant blast of flavor.
Serving the veg at the center of the plate allows for endless side options: a crisp green salad, brown rice, farro pilaf, or anything that looks fresh and vibrant at your farmers market. As long as the sweet and sour bacon chutney crowns the dish, you’re in for some sweet, sweet magic, my friends.
Grilled Eggplant with Sweet and Sour Bacon Chutney
- 4 graffiti or Japanese eggplants sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch planks
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 oz. finely chopped center-cut bacon slices
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1/2 cup fresh diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. lower-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high. Brush eggplants with oil and season with salt. Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender, about 8 minutes.
- Place bacon in a large skillet and turn heat to medium. Cook bacon until fat renders and bacon turns crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant. Add tomatoes, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and red pepper flakes; simmer over medium heat 20 minutes, until reduced and mixture becomes jammy.
- Serve chutney over grilled eggplant.