I know that it’s officially fall but with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I prefer to think that summer is still with us. It certainly looks that way in my local market, which is overflowing with beautiful produce, including these lovely lavender eggplant I decided to put in my basket. My husband had been asking for eggplant Parmesan for a long time (he still talks about the eggplant Parmesan his friend Dominick “Spike” Candido made when they were in college together). My idea was to do a freeform, unbreaded, version on the grill.
For the sauce, I took 4 cups of cherry and grape tomatoes—including some beautiful heirlooms—tossed them with a bit of olive oil, and grilled them over a hot direct fire (I threw them onto a perforated grill pan but you could also skewer them; shake the pan or turn the skewers a few times for even cooking) just until their skins began to split and char a bit, which took 5 minutes. Into a bowl they went; then I used an immersion blender to reduce them to a slightly chunky puree. All “the sauce” needed was a bit of salt to further enhance their natural, now concentrated, flavor.
To serve the two of us I cut one of the eggplant lengthwise into four slices, seasoned them with salt and pepper and brushed them with a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. No advance salting or draining. Onto the grill until they had browned nicely and were tender, which took about 6 minutes per side.
Back in the kitchen, I topped each slice with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, a layer of basil leaves, and thinly sliced fresh mozzarella to cover. I returned the slices to the grill, with the lid down, until the mozzarella melted, which took about 5 minutes. Right before serving, I finished each slice with 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce. The flavors were wonderful, no one component overwhelming the taste of the others, as often happens with traditional fried eggplant Parmesan. This version was light and satisfying at the same time, a perfect salute to the end of summer garden. And it made my husband happy, too.