Grilled Eggplant with Herbed Goat Cheese and Mixed Greens

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Marinated Eggplant
1 small (1 pound) eggplant
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Freshly ground white pepper
Herbed Goat Cheese
1/4 cup quality goat cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Mixed Greens
1 cup mixed baby greens
4 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar*, divided
salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. Cut both ends off the eggplant and discard. Cut the remaining eggplant into 1-inch slices. Generously sprinkle both sides of the slices with kosher salt and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Set aside for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels, but do not rinse with water.

2. Meanwhile, make the herbed goat cheese by mixing the goat cheese, cream cheese, garlic, chives, and thyme in a bowl until smooth. Set aside at room temperature or keep in the refrigerator if making it in advance.

3. Mix the olive oil with garlic and brush on both sides of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with white pepper. Set aside.

4. Heat the grill to medium-high (375º to 400ºF). Grill the eggplant slices until soft, about 5 minutes per side. Alternatively, broil for 3 to 5 minutes on each side in a preheated broiler, about 3 inches from the heat source.

Mixed Greens
1. Toss the mixed greens with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the aged balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Place four slice of grilled eggplant in the middle of four salad plates, one slice per plate. Spread a tablespoon of goat cheese on top of each eggplant slice.

3. Place 1/4 cup of the dressed greens on top of each eggplant slice. Drizzle the remaining balsamic vinegar over the top and around the plates, about 1/2 teaspoon per plate.

*If you don't have a quality, aged balsamic, take 1/2 cup of whatever balsamic vinegar you do have, and reduce it in a saucepan over medium-high heat until only 1/4 cup remains. This will thicken and sweeten it by removing some of the water content.

Serves 4

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