For the longest time, I did not like eggplant parmesana. Give me any eggplant any other way and I’d eat it though. When I was younger, my favorite preparation was eggplant sauteed with peppers and onions in a spicy tomato sauce over pasta. And because my brother would only eat eggplant parm and NOT my pasta, my mother would have to make eggplant both ways, some sauteed for me and some breaded and baked for him!
Over the years I have learned to like eggplant more, and even as eggplant parm. The best I ever had was at a work potluck, made by an old Italian guy. The slices were tender and smokey, gooey slices of melted cheese, tomato sauce bursting with fresh flavor, and the best part, no breading! In my opinion, this really allowed the other flavors to shine. When I came across a recipe for Grilled Eggplant Parmesana
in this month’s issue of Gourmet magazine, it went straight to the weekly dinner menu. I love grilled eggplant, so I was really excited to try this!
I made the recipe pretty much as written, however I eliminated most of the olive oil and just used olive oil spray for the slices of eggplant. I also didn’t use as much cheese – I just asked for my cheese thinly sliced from the deli, put a slice of cheese on each layer of eggplant as directed, and didn’t end up needing it all. Trust me, it was so cheesy I really couldn’t imagine it needing more! My stacks also didn’t sit quite as pretty as the picture from Gourmet, I think because I started prepping them right on the grill (well, on a piece of foil on top of my stone on the grill) so the cheese started melting as I was working.
It all tasted so wonderful and fresh, unlike a typical eggplant parmesana with all the breading and sometimes greasiness. The sauce was delicious with the fresh basil and parmesan cheese, and a little red pepper for a kick. This went so well with the tender grilled eggplant, and I am really glad I went for the sliced mozarella (as opposed to subsituting the bagged shredded stuff). Letting the assembled stacks melt on the grill, as opposed to baking, added just a little extra smokiness, which was certainly welcome. This one is a keeper!