This mouthwatering vegetarian entrée, which is a plant-based spin on classic chicken parmesan, comes together in just 35 minutes.
grilled-eggplant parmesan
Credit: Sidney Bensimon

You know it's summer when you turn to the grill to make weeknight dinners, and the market is suddenly full of zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and other tempting summer produce. Our favorite weeknight dinner for summer, the one we've already started making on the regular, is Grilled-Eggplant Parmesan. It's a lighter, summery take on the classic eggplant parmesan that skips the breading and cooks to perfection on the grill in just 35 minutes. Oh, and did we mention it's a filling plant-based meal?

Rather than making a tomato sauce on the stovetop using canned tomatoes, this inspired recipe calls for fresh ripe tomatoes. You slice them in half crossways and grill them, cut side down, until they're charred and softened. Grill some halved shallots at the same time and the sauce is almost made. Let the ingredients cool (remove the tomato skins at this point if you want to). Then chop the tomatoes roughly, transfer them to a bowl, and season with salt and olive oil. That's it: the sauce is all finished!

There's also no casserole dish needed for this grilled dinner; you just slice the eggplant crosswise into thick planks and brush them with olive oil before grilling. (Yes, brush the oil, rather than drizzle it so the oil is evenly distributed.) Grill the eggplant just till it's charred and fully tender, about 4-5 minutes each side. Be sure the heat isn't too high when you grill the eggplant or you'll end up with the exterior overcooked and the interior not done enough.

Next up, the mozzarella. Here's the thing: while our recipe says to use fresh mozzarella, if you have the low-moisture type sold at the grocery store use it for excellent (perhaps even better) results. Arrange the cheese on top of the grilled eggplant while it's still on the grill. Cover the grill and let the cheese melt (this only takes a minute or two).

Then remove from the grill and top each piece of eggplant with some tomato sauce and fresh basil. Some diners at your table might want two pieces of eggplant, others just one. Round out the meal with crusty bread (like ciabatta) and a green salad.


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