Last summer I happened upon long, white eggplants that motivated me to grill them and top them with a feta cream concoction. I, and my guests, loved the combo so much that I was again inspired by the zesty, tangy flavors of feta, herbs and lemon. This time wanting to create more of a gremolata style topping.
Ok, before the emails start coming asking, "What is gremolata" ? (Although trust me, I never mind getting your email questions or suggestions.) Gremolata is an Italian condiment, if you will. Super basic, but like many things Italian, it makes a powerful statement. It's a zesty garnish of chopped herbs. The classic version consists of lemon zest, garlic, parsley and anchovy and is often used as to complement such dishes as Osso Buco alla Milanese, providing a final flavor zip to a rich meat dish.
Classic style is great since most of those ingredients are common to every kitchen, and it creates a wonderful go-to topping to liven up any dish. However, fear not of veering off the common path. I implore you to go ahead and venture out. Mix and match to design your own gremolata. Think other citrus fruits such as lime, orange, grapefruit. Mix up the herb type either substituting or adding to the parsley with cilantro/coriander, mint, sage. When it comes to the spicy zing of garlic, ponder anything zingy: finely grated fresh horseradish, grated ginger or minced shallot. Some chefs even throw in Pecorino Romano cheese, anchovy, toasted pine nuts or grated bottarga. So, no big surprise that I would riff off the classic gremolata to create a garnish that was destined to brighten up another batch of long, white eggplants.
I quickly began compiling items for my dana version. The key to a great gremolata is FRESH ingredients. No jarred herbs or citruses allowed.
1/4 c chopped parsley
3 T chopped Moroccan or oil cured olives
1 T chopped fresh, mint
2 T chopped oven dried tomatoes*
1/3 c crumbled feta
1/4 t red pepper flakes
3 T minced shallot
1 T lemon zest
3 T olive oil
*I made my own oven dried tomatoes and packed them in oil. Recipe is linked above but can also use sun dried tomatoes
Grill or prepare the meat or veggie of your choice. As I mentioned, I grilled white eggplants and onions.
Chop, prep all the above ingredients and combine together. A true gremolata does not include the oil. But you can add it to the mix or drizzle it over top the final dish.
This adds such a bright, summer fresh flavor to grilled anything. Heck, I bet this would be banging on a grilled hamburger. Skip the ketchup, and pile on the gremolata!!
Another fringe benefit to using gremolata on vegetables is that you rake in all the fresh, brightness of citrus without turning your green vegetables brown. I also tried it on spaghetti squash and it definitely imparted a different flavor profile. Now that's amore!