Mini Grilled Eggplant Parmigiano

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All of a sudden, bright shiny domestic eggplant is everywhere! And even though my plants have just gone into the ground and I will not be harvesting the purple beauties until late July and early August, I could not resist buying one.

The trick is to get a really fresh one so I look for shiny ones with tight stems and no brown spots on the skin. I pick it up to feel how hefty it is; a lightweight means it is dry and old. It should feel heavy in your hand. I give it the press test with my thumb to make sure there are no soft spots and when I have selected my perfect one I make parmigiano.

Mini Grilled Eggplant Parmigiano

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 medium size eggplant, stem removed.
Salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups homemade tomato sauce plus extra to pass on the side
One 8 ounce container cigliegini (small mozzarella balls in water)
8 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plus extra to pass on the side
Olive oil spray four 3 x 2 inch ramekins and set aside.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the grill

Slice the eggplant lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the slices on a grill top and cook until grill marks appear. Turn and cook other side. Transfer to a dish and cool.

Spread a tablespoon of tomato sauce in the base of each ramekin.

Depending on length of the eggplant slices, overlap one or two over the tomato sauce in each ramekin, cutting them if too long and using pieces to patch any open spots.

Place 3 of the mozzarella balls (cigliegini) in the ramekins and add another tablespoon of tomato sauce over them. Fold the overlapping slices of the eggplant over the cheese to enclose it and top with another tablespoon of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese.

Make three more.

Cover the ramekins with foil and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25 mintues. Uncover and bake 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack. Carefully turn each one out onto an individual dish and pass additional sauce and cheese on the side.

Recipe from Ciao Italia Family Classics by Mary Ann Esposito

 

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