Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
1½ cups shredded cheese or pizza cheese
¼-cup bread crumbs, (pancko crumbs preferred)
2 T olive oil (no need for extra virgin)
10-15 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 eggplant (about 1 pound), cut lengthwise into four pieces, 1/2-inch-thick slices, do not peel
1-2 Zucchini, cut lengthwise, thinly, do not peel
Fresh beefsteak tomatoes, cut cross-wise, four or more pieces, about 1/2 inch slices, do not peel
1/4 cup garlic-flavored olive oil (optional)
½-cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Prepare grill (medium heat).
2. Combine cheese, chiffonade of basil, bread crumbs and oil in bowl. (Hint: To chiffonade basil, stack leaves on top of each other. Roll leaves from tip to stem. With sharp knife, slice rolled leaves into thin strips. Save a pinch for garnish.)
3. Sprinkle eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes with salt and pepper.
4. Brush one side of eggplant and zucchini with (garlic infused) oil. Grill, oiled side down, until bottom side is tender and grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Zucchini will cook faster than eggplant and may have to move to cooler area while eggplant softens. Turn zucchini and grill second side while eggplant softens. (Hint: For typical grilling “cross hatch” markings, rotate pieces 90 degrees half way through cooking.)
5. Brush second side of eggplant slices with more oil; turn oil side down on grill. Grill about 1-2 minutes to mark; top grilled side of eggplant with zucchini ribbons and slices of tomatoes, then cheese mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle with remaining oil.
6. Cover and grill until tomatoes are tender and cheese melts, about 7 minutes.
Garnish with basil. Serve rice or side salad for an elegant vegetarian patio barbeque. A chilled glass of rose would potentially enhance the evening.
Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.