Eggplant-Parm Grilled Cheese
An updated grilled cheese sammie tops herbed eggplant with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
- 1 firm medium eggplant
- 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- A generous pinch of crushed red pepper
- Softened butter
- 8-12 slices good-quality white bread or firm Italian semolina bread
- 1-1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 2 vine or Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
- A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
Pre-heat the broiler.
Peel the skin off two opposite sides of the eggplant, then slice the eggplant into quarter-inch-thick planks. Season with salt and let drain on a kitchen towel for a few minutes.
In a small skillet, heat the EVOO, five turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the garlic in a single layer and cook until light golden, about 3 minutes. Remove with a fork, let cool, then chop; reserve. Add the rosemary and crushed red pepper to the EVOO in the skillet.
Pat the eggplant dry; brush with the rosemary-red pepper EVOO. Broil on a baking sheet until tender, 2 minutes per side.
Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Lightly butter one side of the bread slices and sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano. Build the sandwiches, layering the bread (buttered side down), a mozzarella slice, grilled eggplant (folded in half), tomato, reserved crispy garlic, basil, another mozzarella slice and another bread slice (buttered side up). Grill, turning once, until the bread is golden and the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Serve with a green salad or tomato soup for dipping.