Monday, September 17, 2012

Grilled-Eggplant & Tomato Stacks

If you're on a low carb or low fat diet--or if you're simply trying to eat healthier--and miss the hearty flavors of traditional eggplant parmesan, my Grilled-Eggplant and Tomato Stacks are a tasty alternative that will please the palate without blowing your diet. Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, I grill the slices and season them with Italian herbs and spices. A George Foreman Grill makes this  step quick and easy while providing the convenience of cooking indoors, but you can certainly use an outdoor grill. Instead of using tomato sauce, which can be high in sugar unless you make your own, I use slices of juicy, ripe heirloom tomato--any homegrown or farm-fresh tomato will provide a richer, fuller flavor than ordinary supermarket tomatoes but those will work, too. And in place of all the cheese in traditional eggplant parm recipes, a sprinkling of a good-quality shredded parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese delivers mouthwatering cheesiness while keeping the fat and calorie count in check.

For best results, use a globe eggplant and a large tomato, and try to pair slices of each that are similar in size. The small eggplant I used was enough to serve two people as part of a main course (you'll want to serve with either a whole-grain pasta or other starch, and/or with a protein such as grilled steak, roast chicken, pork chops, etc.) or as an appetizer or first course for 3 or 4. To feed more, just double the ingredient quantities or use 1 large eggplant and a couple of tomatoes. Don't get hung up on the amounts below; feel free to tweak and modify to suit your taste and needs.

Grilling the eggplant
Olive oil, approx. 1 to 2 Tbs
1 small globe eggplant (approx. 3/4 lb)
1 large tomato (approx. 3/4 lb)
1/2 cup (approx) shredded Parmigiano cheese
Dried or fresh minced herbs for seasoning, to taste (I used basil & oregano, but thyme and /or rosemary also work)
Sea Salt & cracked black pepper for seasoning, to taste

Trim the eggplant and cut into 1/2" thick rounds. Brush both sides with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and grill until tender, approx. 9 or 10 minutes on a George Foreman grill. While the eggplant is grilling, use an extremely sharp knife to slice the tomato into slightly thinner rounds.

Stacked & ready to broil
Preheat broiler and move the top rack to the second set of rungs from the top. Line a broiler pan with foil and brush with olive oil. Place the eggplant rounds in a single layer on the foil. Use your fingers to very lightly sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on each round (this will help to keep the stacks together), then top each round with a slice of tomato, matching similar-sized rounds of eggplant and tomato. Sprinkle each tomato with your choice of herbs plus a little salt & pepper, all to taste.  Sprinkle some shredded parmesan cheese on top of each tomato slice, using as much or as little cheese as you want. Place pan on the top rack under the broiler (on the second-from-top rungs) and broil for a few minutes until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown--this happens QUICKLY so keep a close eye on the stacks to avoid burning.  Remove pan from oven, let sit for a minute to "set" and use a spatula to carefully move the stacks onto one or more plates.

Bacon Hot Sauce
Zestfully yours,

PS: If you like splashing some hot sauce on eggplant parm or other cheesy, tomato-ey Italian dishes, I recommend Blues Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce for its clean habanero flavor & fire (it's not too vinegary), or for a dash of meaty bacon flavor try Bacon Hot Sauce, both of which are on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

No comments:

Post a Comment