Whether you have a garden or visit your local farmers market, right now there should be an abundance of tender sweet eggplants and juicy tomatoes. The first thing that pops into my mind is eggplant parmesan. But in the summer, I certainly don’t want to spend lots of time in the kitchen with the oven on or standing over the stove frying eggplant. Therefore I created a summer eggplant parmesan cooked on the grill.
This is not your typical winter dish with breaded and fried eggplant, layers and layers of shredded cheese and sauce. Instead, it is a light and healthy version full of flavor that will surely become one of your summer favorites especially if you follow a vegetarian diet.
Ricotta cheese is sandwiched between two layers of grilled eggplant and a light marinara sauce with fresh basil and oregano in individual gratin dishes. They are then topped with fresh mozzarella and placed in a covered grill to cook. The result is a silky eggplant dish that has a smoky, nutty flavor.
Summer Eggplant Parmesan
This recipe makes two individual gratin dishes. Adjust the recipe accordingly.
- 1 eggplant, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt to taste
- 2 cups basic homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite jarred marinara sauce
- a handful of chopped fresh herbs, I used basil and oregano
- approx. 1/4 c. ricotta
- 2 tsp. grated asiago or parmesan cheese
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced (you will have some leftover)
Preheat your grill covered for about 10 minutes to get hot.
Warm the olive oil and minced garlic in a pan, remove from the heat and let infuse for several minutes. Place the sliced eggplant on a small baking pan, salt and brush with the infused oil on both sides. Reserve the minced garlic. Place the slices of eggplant on your grill and let cook for about 3 minutes on each side until tender and golden. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.
In the meantime, heat the tomato sauce along with the fresh herbs and reserved garlic.
To assemble the dish, place a little of the sauce in the bottom of each flameproof gratin dish. Add 1/4 of the grilled eggplant to each dish. Top the eggplant with 1/2 the ricotta each and then sprinkle with the grated cheese. Then top each with the remaining eggplant. Spoon tomato sauce over the eggplant and top with sliced mozzarella. Place the gratin dishes on a small baking sheet and place on your grill and cook with the lid down. Cook until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
There is one added bonus to this meal besides not having a hot kitchen and that is there is no greasy stove to clean from splattered oil that usually happens when frying eggplant. Since the eggplant is not breaded and fried, this is a very light dish…perfect for a summer evening. Served with a salad of crisp greens, a crusty piece of bread and a nice glass of your favorite wine, I think you will be smiling.