My grilled eggplant parmesan recipe is a slightly “lightened up” take on one of our favorite meals, brimming with lots of zesty flavor. Prepared with slices of marinated and grilled eggplant, marinara sauce, and a sprinkle of real parmesan cheese, I love to serve this grilled eggplant parmesan atop of golden slices of garlicky ciabatta bread with a sprinkle of basil!
Eggplant Parmesan Gets Grilled
Classic eggplant parmesan is one of those meals that I love to prepare when we're craving an ultra comfy-cozy, Italian-inspired vegetarian dish that's super saucy, cheesy, and savory.
What's not to utterly adore about tender, succulent eggplant coated in a golden, crispy-fried outer crust that's smothered in marinara and ooey-gooey cheese?
And while I thoroughly enjoy the traditional version of this dish (you can check out my mouthwatering, classic recipe for eggplant parmesan, if you'd like!), I also love a slightly more “au naturel” version that's grilled rather than fried, and a tad lightened up.
My grilled eggplant parmesan recipe features slices of Chinese eggplant that are marinated with a touch of zesty red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, olive oil, plus salt and pepper for lots of bold flavor.
Then, those slices are grilled off until tender on the inside and deliciously charred on the outside, topped with zesty marinara (you can try my homemade marinara recipe, if you'd like), then sprinkled with some finely grated/shredded parmesan cheese and placed under the broiler for a few moments just until the cheese melts.
The flavor is out-of-this-world tasty, and I love that I can skip the additional steps of breading and frying!
My Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
While you can totally prepare and enjoy this recipe on its own with just the grilled eggplant slices, marinara and cheese, I really like to kick things up a little with some garlicky slices of toasted ciabatta bread...
The garlicky ciabatta slices make a terrific “base” or vessel for the grilled eggplant parmesan, making this dish super rustic and easy to serve, especially with a nice peppery, green salad on the side.
You could skip the bread and just marinate and grill the eggplant, then top with sauce and cheese and broil, serving this with pasta, or with just salad. But the ciabatta helps to soak up some of the sauce and cheese, and is just so darned comforting and good!
Here's a sneak peek at how I make my grilled eggplant parmesan: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I marinate my slices of Chinese eggplant in some red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil and Italian seasoning for roughly 10 minutes.
- Next, I grill my eggplant slices for a few moments per side until tender and charred on the outside, and set those aside while I toast my ciabatta.
- I toast my slices of ciabatta bread with a bit of olive oil on a baking sheet, just until golden, then rub a fresh garlic clove over each piece.
- To assemble my grilled eggplant parmesan I add a few slices of grilled eggplant to a piece of toasted garlicky ciabatta, then spoon over some marinara sauce and top with grated parmesan cheese. I then place it onto a baking sheet and under the broiler for a few moments, just until the cheese is melted.
- I top with torn basil leaves, and serve accompanied with a spicy green salad.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
by Ingrid Beer
This grilled eggplant parmesan features marinated, grilled eggplant, marinara, and parmesan cheese all atop of garlicky, rustic ciabatta!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 421 calories per serving (with bread)
Prep Time: 20 minutes (does not include marination time)
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
- 2 Chinese eggplants, sliced into 16 (½ inch thick) slices on the bias
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Olive oil
- 4 thick slices of ciabatta or other crusty, rustic bread (optional serving base)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled of paper and end cut off (if preparing toasted ciabatta)
- 1 to 1 ½ cups marinara sauce (depending on saucy you like things)
- ¾ cup finely shredded or grated parmesan cheese
- 4-6 fresh basil leaves, torn up, for garnish
- To begin, gather and prep all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Place the eggplant slices into a large bowl, and add the red wine vinegar, about 1 teaspoon of the salt, about ¼ teaspoon of the cracked black pepper, the Italian seasoning and about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss the ingredients to coat the eggplant. Allow the slices to marinate for about 10 minutes.
- To grill the eggplant, place a large grill pan over medium-high heat, and allow it to become very hot. Add in a few drizzles of olive oil, and then add some of the marinated eggplant slices into the pan in a single layer (you will need to work in batches). Grill for roughly 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until they are golden-brown and soft. Once all eggplant slices are grilled, set them aside for a moment, keeping them warm.
- To make the garlic ciabatta toasts, turn your broiler on high. Place some foil onto a baking sheet, and place the 4 thick slices of bread onto the sheet. Drizzle each slice with a couple of drizzles of olive oil and a sprinkle or two of salt, and place under the broiler for a couple of moments, just until the bread becomes golden. Remove the toasted bread from the oven, leaving the broiler on, and rub the cut clove of garlic over each piece of toasted bread.
- To assemble the grilled eggplant parmesan, layer 4 slices of the grilled eggplant onto each piece of garlic toast, spoon some of the marinara over top, and add about 2 tablespoons of the grated/shredded Parmesan cheese to cover.
- Place things back under the broiler, and broil just until the cheese melts and is slightly golden. Remove the toasts from the oven, and sprinkle some of the torn basil leaves over top of the grilled eggplant parmesan, and serve while hot just as is, or with a green salad.
Tips & Tidbits for my Grilled Eggplant Parmesan recipe:
- Chinese eggplant for smaller slices: Whenever I can find Chinese eggplant in the market, I'll typically opt for that variety. It is a paler purple and much thinner and longer, and for this presentation, the smaller slices work really well layered onto the ciabatta bread. You can also use traditional globe eggplant, just choose one that's more oblong and thinner rather than round in the middle, especially if serving atop of the ciabatta.
- Good quality store-bought marinara sauce, or homemade: To save a bit of time, you can use a good quality store bought marinara that's zesty and flavorful. And if you'd like it a bit spicy like I do, you can always add some red pepper flakes to it. However, if you're looking for a very quick and easy homemade marinara that is absolutely delicious, take a peek at my homemade marinara, and serve any leftovers with pasta, or make a mouthwatering pizza with it!
- Ciabatta bread as a vessel, or other rustic bread: I love the soft ciabatta loaves from the market, and cut those into slightly thick slices to act as the serving vessel for my grilled eggplant parmesan. Any soft rustic bread will do, just toast it a bit and rub that clove of fresh garlic on afterwards for the added flavor!
- What to serve with grilled eggplant paremesan: If you're looking for options to serve with this recipe (in lieu of the bread), you can serve warm angel hair pasta, or even skip the added carbs altogether and opt for an arugula salad with a nice vinaigrette.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!