Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant parmigiana is one of my absolute favourite dishes!! Traditionally, the eggplant slices are first breaded and then fried. Need I say more? There is just something so sublime about fried eggplant. As good as it is in its traditional form, I allow myself this guilty pleassure only once a year on Christmas day. My aunt Pina makes the best eggplant parmigiana. The Christmas table is just not complete without it. It is such an indulgence that you can normally only stomach one small square, though I always manage to sneak a second. It’s that good.

As much as I love fried eggplant, I also enjoy grilled eggplant. Though very different, they are equally delicious in their own way. A number of years ago, I decided to try making the eggplant parmigiana using grilled eggplant instead. The result was even better than expected. I can now enjoy the dish more often. The subtle smokiness imparted by the bbq takes the dish to a whole other level. I can honestly say that I enjoy both dishes equally for different reasons. This grilled version is just a beautiful fit for the summer and there’s absolutely no compromise on the taste. Even my husband, who doesn’t enjoy eggplant at all, asks for this dish at the first sight of eggplants at the farmers’ market.

Most eggplant types should work here, but I prefer the smaller eggplants for this recipe; they contain fewer seeds. I make my own tomato sauce and am able to make this dish during the week because when I do make the tomato sauce, I freeze a batch for such occasions. If you are buying your tomato sauce, try to buy a good quality one. Passata would be even better, but be sure to add a couple tablespoons of a good quality olive oil to it.

This dish works beautifully with a side green salad, but is also delicious in a sandwich. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Eggplant 2 lbs
Olive oil  
Salt  
Black pepper  
Tomato sauce, prepared 2 cups
Basil, leaves, fresh 10-12
Parmesan cheese, grated  
Mozzarella, grated ½ a ball (170 g)

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice the eggplants into ¼-inch thick slices.
  2. Brush eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil.
  3. Season them with salt and black pepper only on one side.
  4. Grill on the bbq for 2-3 minutes per side.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Spread the bottom of an 8 by 8 inch baking dish with tomato sauce.
  7. Arrange a single layer of grilled eggplant. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and then with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese.
  8. For your next layer, arrange the eggplant and spread the tomato sauce. This time, lay the basil leaves, and then sprinkle the parmesan cheese and mozzarella.
  9. Continue layering in this order until you have finished all of your ingredients. You should have a minimum of 4 layers. Only the second layer has the fresh basil leaves.
  10. Cover the baking dish with foil paper and bake covered for 20 minutes.
  11. Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes until the parmigiana is bubbly and golden.
  12. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  13. Cut into four pieces and serve with a side green salad.

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