I'm sure I'm not the only one who needs eggplant, am I? It's one of those cravings you just have to satisfy. Here's a fast and delicious way to love your eggplants and enjoy them without all of the time-consuming steps of preparing a traditional Eggplant Parmigiana. No frying. No greasy eggplant slices that suck up all of that oil like little sponges. You don't even have to make a homemade sauce. Not even a prepared sauce. I promise you . . . it's delicious. I believe that eggplant was made for the grill. And a little cheese can't hurt.
Melanzane al Formaggio*
2-3 medium, firm eggplants, sliced about 1/2" thick
1 can of whole peeled tomatoes or tomato sauce (I love Dei Fratelli) or your favorite homemade or store-bought sauce (how easy is this?)
Hard grating cheese (Parmesan or Romano or Grana Padano)
Also, use any other cheese you have on hand (I used some interesting and delicious Sartori Bellavitano - from Wisconsin, actually!) and a few chunks of Chevre goat cheese (oh my)
fresh bread crumbs
fresh and/or dried herbs like oregano and thyme
plus a little more olive oil and
a little more grated hard cheese
*yet another name . . . this dish is having an identity crisis.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with kosher salt and drizzle with olive oil. Heat your grill to medium and make sure the grates are clean. Grill the eggplant slices on the grill until they have nice grill marks and flip easily...... about 5 to 10 minutes. Flip and grill for another 5 minutes.
Remove from grill and set aside. Spoon some sauce onto the bottom of a baking dish. Place the eggplant slices on top of the sauce in a single layer. Top with some freshly grated cheese(s) (your choice). Spoon on more tomato sauce. If using whole canned tomatoes (I did tonight....), chop them up with a knife and fork or gently squeeze them to break them up. Then, another layer of eggplant slices, more cheese, more sauce. In the meantime, mix together some fresh breadcrumbs (I think I used about 2 cups) with some grated hard cheese (about 1/4 cup), a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and some herbs (tonight, I used fresh thyme and dried oregano). Drizzle in a bit of olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons). Mix well. Spread evenly onto top layer. The oil will give your bread crumb topping a nice crunch. Pop into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until crusty on top and bubbly underneath and around the edges. Let rest a few minutes. Serve with a salad and some heavy and rustic bread. You will be full and happy. Really delicious.
KPK Inside Info
Grill the eggplant when you have the time (like a day in advance). Keep it in the fridge and assemble the dish the next day. I'm sure it will be great. Take a few extra minutes when you have stale bread and toss it into the food processor. It only takes a minute to make bread crumbs. Toss them into a ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer. You will always have fresh bread crumbs on hand.... for stuff like this OR meatballs OR meatloaf OR for topping anything that needs some love. OK. Also, use whatever the heck cheese you have in your fridge. I'm sure some cheeses wouldn't be ideal but a lot of cheeses would be awesome. Use your judgement. You can also make this dish with zucchini and it is just as delicious. I guess when you add sauce, cheese and crumbs, you can't be too far off from greatness. This is one of those "throw together" dishes where all of the flavors just work in harmony. You really can't mess it up. Make some tonight, improvise and enjoy!
Pictured here with a salad of arugula, thinly sliced celery, homegrown cherry tomatoes, red onion, tiny cucumber slices, pitted kalamata olives and fresh basil in a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Thick slices of amazing ciabatta bread from Whole Foods functioned as transporters from posateria to bocca ....plate to mouth. LOL.
Don't forget the vino rosso. Oh yeah.
Give in to a craving today. You'll be so glad you did... and then, you'll thank me.