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Grilled Eggplant Parm Recipe


Discs of eggplant topped with tomato sauce and mozarella
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3.18 from 28 votes
If you like bland restaurant eggplant parmesan, then our grilled version will blow you away. When you skip the deep fryer and use the grill, you let eggplant's natural flavor remain intact while the grilling adds nuttiness and sweetness. Add to that real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fresh tomatoes, and you've got a hit.

Course:
Dinner
,
Lunch
,
Main Course
,
Vegetable
Cuisine:
American
,
Italian

Makes:

Servings: 2 as a main course

Takes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized eggplants [about 6 to 8 inches (152.4 to 203.2 mm) long]
  • ½ teaspoon  Morton coarse kosher salt  (read more about the science of salt here)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 large portobello mushroom
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fired up marinara sauce or canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ¼ cup fresh mozzarella
Notes:
About the eggplants. Occasionally you will see recipes that call for you to salt the eggplants and let them sit to reduce bitterness. I've just never found this to be necessary with fresh eggplants.
About the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Please do not use anything labeled "parmesan." It barely resembles the real thing from Italy, the "king of cheeses," Parmigiano-Reggiano (above). Real Italian Parm has a distinctive flavor, especially after it melts, that really amps this dish over the top. Save the stuff in the green cardboard toilet paper tube for Spaghetti-Os.
About the mozzarella. Try to get fresh mozzarella. It is often in the deli counter still floating in whey or water. It works a lot better than the other stuff in this (and most other recipes).
About the salt. Remember, Morton's coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Riffing. This recipe allows you a lot of flexibility. Skip the mushrooms if you wish. Add more sauce. Add fresh tomatoes, add thyme, use dried herbs, use canned sauce, make a blend of other cheeses, add hot pepper flakes, riff away.
Optional. If fresh basil is not available, dried works fine. In fact I once did this dish by sprinkling dried whole basil leaves on the eggplant and under the sauce, and by the time the cheese had melted and dinner was served, the basil remained crunchy. That was fun! Keep in mind, these were whole leaves, not flakes. Another excellent option, is to add a tablespoon of pesto sauce to the tomato sauce. Splendido! Or use marinara sauce.
Serve with. Garlic bread and tossed green salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. A big red or even a chilled sangria would be nice.
 
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Fire up. Preheat the grill to medium heat and set it up in a 2-zones.
  • Prep. A lot of recipes call for salting and squeezing the eggplant. I have never found this necessary if the fruit is fresh and firm. But there is a trick to reduce any stray bitterness: Remove some, but not all of the skin. This also makes it easier to cut and chew. The skin has a lot of flavor, but it can be tough. Peel the eggplants partially by making long vertical stripes. If you don't stripe it, the skin can form hard leathery bands that are difficult to cut and bite. Now slice the tubes widthwise into ½ inch (12.7 mm) thick disks and put them in a large bowl. They look cool if you slice on a slight angle. Add the mushroom to the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and olive oil, and toss them until lightly coated with oil and seasoning. Add more oil if necessary.
  • Cook. Grill the mushroom and eggplant over medium high direct heat until they begin to soften but not until they are limp. Back in the bowl they go. Leave the grill running.
  • In a metal baking pan, spread the eggplants out on the bottom. They can overlap if necessary. Cut the mushroom into bite-size chunks and scatter them on top of the slices. Sprinkle on the herbs. Then spoon the tomato sauce on making sure each slice of eggplant is well covered. Next goes the Parmigiano-Reggiano, then place a disk of the fresh mozzarella on top of each disk of eggplant.
  • Put the pan on the grill in the indirect heat zone and close the lid. Depending on your grill it will take about 20 minutes for the cheeses to melt. You can wait until it begins to brown slightly, but fresh mozz is slow to brown.
  • Serve. Serve the eggplant with a big red wine and a loaf of crusty bread. Maybe some garlic bread. I like to cut off hunks and put it on the bread and make open face sandwiches.