Grilled Eggplant Parmesam

This grilled-vegetable version of eggplant Parmesan, like the one Grace Parisi’s Calabrian grandmother used to make, is much lighter than the fried kind.

INGREDIENTS:
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds), peeled (or not) and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
5 large plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 yellow bell pepper, diced (optional)
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt
1/3 cup chopped green olives
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped oil-packed Calabrian chilies or other hot chilies (I used peperoncinis)
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely shredded basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
6 ounces Fontina cheese (preferably Val de Osta), thinly sliced
Crusty bread, to accompany

YIELD: Serves 2 as a meal, 4-6 as a side

COURSE: Vegetables and Sides

CUISINE: Italian

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 425° and heat a grill pan. Brush the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Grill the eggplant in batches over moderately high heat, turning once, until softened and lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Grill the tomatoes,and yellow pepper (if using) turning once, until lightly charred but still intact, about 3 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, combine the olives, chilies and shredded basil. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In the center, arrange the eggplant in a 9 to 12-inch square. Top with the grilled tomatoes, peppers, olive mixture and Fontina.
  3. Bake in the center of the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with crusty bread.