The flavors for this grilled eggplant parmesan are classic, the ingredients are healthy (and in-season during the summer!), and the textures are hefty and varied enough for you to forget that you're basically eating a vegetarian dish!
4medium vine-ripe tomatoes
olive oilfor drizzling
freshly ground pepper
1/4cupfresh basil leavesabout 6 leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle olive oil over the bottom of a 9 x 12-inch casserole dish.
On a cutting board, cut the tops off of the tomatoes, halve them, and place them facedown in the casserole. Add the garlic cloves to the casserole. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the tomatoes and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the skins remove easily.
Heat a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Cut around the edges of the eggplant then score the eggplant by cutting it diagonally in one direction and then across diagonally in the opposite direction, making a diamond pattern. Drizzle olive oil over the scored eggplant and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. In the host cast iron pan, place the eggplants flesh-side down and cook without moving it for about 5 minutes. Turn the eggplant over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and allow the eggplant to cook for about 25 minutes,or until the flesh is easily pierced with a kinife.
Remove tomatoes from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes or until the skin of the tomatoes can be removed without burning your hands. Remove the skins and save them for the compost pile or feed them to the chickens.
Remove eggplant from the oven. Sprhinkle each half with 1/4 parmesan cheese. With a fork, slightly mash each tomato and the garlic in the casserole. Place 1 smashed clove of garlic on each of the eggplants. Add 3 tomato halves to each eggplant and sprinkle each eggplant with 1/4 cup of parmesan. Place the eggplants back into the oven until cheese is melted and golden.
Meanwhile, stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll tightly as you would a cigar and cut into strips (chiffonade).
Remove eggplant from the oven and place on a serving platter or plate. Sprinkle extra parmesan and some of the basil over the top of the eggplant.
Note: This dish is fabulous with added ground turkey, beef, duck, or venison. Add the meat before adding the tomatoes to the eggplant.