Meal: Grilled Eggplant Parm

Back Story: It was so hot today. Too hot to cook. But, we had eggplant and all the ingredients for fresh tomato sauce in our basket and garden harvest; Eggplant Parm was the logical meal solution. To get around heating the house, we fired the grill. MF genius, IMHO.

Method: Eggplant has a lot of water stored in the flesh. Whether you are frying or grilling, you need to render that liquid to avoid steaming the flesh and to get a nice char or crisp crust if frying. To do that, sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices liberally with kosher salt and let sit for 30 minutes. The salt draws the liquid out (see the first picture) and, don’t worry, it won’t “be salty” because the water comes out and dissolves the salt, then you blot it away. Blot each slice multiple times with paper towels. Now you’re ready to cook. Since we’re grilling, I sprayed each slice with primo EVOO. Grill each slice on a hot grill for 5 minutes each side. Once the slices are done, assemble the casserole.

Casserole: In an oven proof dish, layer grilled eggplant, julienned fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and sauce*. Repeat layers until you run out of eggplant. Return to the grill for 30 minutes. After its done, let rest for 15 minutes to let the juices reabsorb.

*Sauce: I usually use Rao’s sauce but today, I made a fresh sauce using 7 cloves of garlic (sautéed in 2 tablespoons of EVOO til aromatic, but not brown), 4 cups of diced garden-fresh tomato, 3 tablespoons of oregano and salt/pepper. Sauce was cooked/reduced for three hours. Scrumptious.