This fabulous grilled eggplant Parmesan is my take on the traditional “eggplant Parm,” a staple of red-sauce Italian joints. It’s a revelation. Forget about the heavy, greasy eggplant lost in deep-fried breading. Here it’s grilled to a softly charred beauty and layered with melted cheese, seasoned bread crumbs, and a delicate tomato sauce. This recipe began as an attempt to convert my husband, who was scarred as a youth when forced to eat eggplant at its slimy, viscous, undercooked worst. As a result, he refers to eggplant as the organ meat of vegetables. Not fair. Whenever he’s out, I cook eggplant!–Lucinda Scala Quinn
LC Darn Good Thing Note
This grilled eggplant Parmesan recipe isn’t exactly traditional. With all due respect to Nonnas everywhere, we consider that to be a darn good thing.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- For the tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, pulsed in a blender until just sorta semichunky
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 sprig basil (optional)
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter (optional)
- For the grilled eggplant Parmesan
- 2 eggplants (2 1/2 pounds total), sliced into 1/3-inch-thick rounds (24 slices total)
- 1/3 cup plus 1/2 to 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 cup finely ground dried bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
- 3 cups tomato sauce (see preceding recipe)
- 1-pound ball fresh mozzarella, halved and sliced crosswise into 1/4- inch-thick half-moons (24 slices total)
- Make the tomato sauce
- 1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and tilt to swirl so it coats the bottom of the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. You want to cook the garlic just long enough so it releases its fragrance but not so long that it turns golden.
- 2. Stir in the tomatoes and the salt, crank the heat to high, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and deep red in color. Add the basil sprig, if using, for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the basil before serving and swirl in the butter, if desired.
- Make the grilled eggplant Parmesan
- 3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
- 4. Brush the eggplant rounds on both sides with 1/3 cup olive oil and season with the salt. Working in batches, place the eggplant on the grill rack or in the grill pan and cook, flipping once, until charred and softened, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer the eggplant to a platter, cutting board, or baking sheet.
- 5. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, pepper, herbs, and the remaining 1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl.
- 6. Place 8 slices grilled eggplant flat on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Top each with 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato sauce (the more tomato sauce you use, the more likely the stacks will be to slip and slide), 1/2 to 1 tablespoon bread crumb mixture, and 1 slice mozzarella. Repeat to make 2 more layers.
- 7. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.