Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

I’ve always loved eggplant parmesan. It wasn’t something we had at home so I would take advantage of just about every opportunity to have it. It was often my choice if I was grabbing dinner at a diner; and an eggplant parm sandwich always made for a good lunch.

One of our longtime neighbors made an excellent version of eggplant parmesan. She knew how much my father and I enjoyed the dish and would often send some over for us.

I remember one particular night when she had sent some over. We were getting ready to open a video store. Jeff, the sales rep from the tape supplier had come down from New York to meet with us and work up the initial order of videos. The process of choosing stretched into the early hours of the morning. At one point, we stopped to refresh ourselves and we offered the sales rep some of the eggplant parm. You would have thought he hadn’t eaten in his life. He loved it, couldn’t stop raving about it, and ended up eating all that we had on hand.  I can never think about the dish without thinking about Jeff asking if we had any more.

Grilled eggplant parmesan

Anyway…as much as I love eggplant parmesan I have never been keen on the involved process of making it. And let’s face it, frying breaded slices of eggplant and then layering them with tomato sauce and tons of cheese isn’t going to produce the healthiest of dishes.

Since I’m so fond of just simply grilling eggplant, I figured you could make a decent eggplant parmesan that way. Last summer, I came up with a version replacing the breaded and fried eggplant with grilled slices. While I was at it, I decided to grill some tomatoes and use them to make the sauce. (Yeah, I know. I simplify by NOT frying the eggplant, and then I add a step by having to roast the tomatoes).

Anyway, the result is pretty good. Try it.

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

  • Two large eggplants (about 1# each)
  • Olive oil
  • ½ – ¾  pound of mozzarella cheese
  • Fire-roasted tomato sauce (see below)

Wash and peel eggplant. Slice into ½” thick rounds

Lightly brush with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat until tender and nicely browned (about 10 minutes) turning over after about 5 or 6 minutes.

Remove from grill.

Spray baking dish or foil pan with oil, add a little fire-roasted tomato sauce to bottom of pan and layer slices of eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and sauce, alternating until eggplant is used up and dish is full. Make sure to end with sauce.

Bake over grill or in oven until bubbly and cheese has melted. (30 – 45 minutes at 375 degrees)

Fire-roasted tomato sauce

  • 5 pounds of ripe plum-type (Roma, San Marzano, etc.) tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Basil,
  • Garlic
  • Salt, pepper, other herbs to taste

Slice tomatoes in half long ways and toss with olive oil. Grill, cut side down, for about 8 minutes over medium high heat. Turn over and grill until skin starts to blister. Remove from grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove skins from tomatoes, chop, retaining juices. Add minced fresh basil, chopped garlic and anything else you’d use for your normal tomato sauce.  I like to keep this sauce kind of chunky, but you can run it through your food processor or use an immersion blender to make a smoother version.


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