Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

by formerchef on August 24, 2009

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My very first job in a restaurant kitchen was as the pastry chef for a small mom-and-pop Italian restaurant. How I got that job with no experience is a story for another day. But after working there for about 6 months, I moved to working on the hot line part time. One of my responsibilities was to make the batches of eggplant parmesan and lasagna. I loathed doing the eggplant because this meant I had to stand over a scalding rondo pan of hot oil and fry rounds of eggplant for what felt like days.
Later, when I was a head chef in another resaurant and would somehow end up with an extra case of eggplant, I never forgot how much I hated all that frying and came up with a much healthier version of the dish, grilling the eggplant instead.
I haven’t made this for over a decade, but lately it’s been on my mind, along with the ever-present need to use up excess zucchini from my garden. Recently, a couple of commenters on the blog mentioned using zucchini in a lasagna-like dish so when I decided to make the eggplant parm, I thought I might as well toss some in there too.
One of the nice things about this dish is that while it does have a fair amount of cheese, I think it’s pretty healthy because the eggplant isn’t fried and thus does not soak up a ton of oil. Grilling the vegetables also does two things; removes excess water so you don’t end up with a “soupy” dish, and the little bit of char on the eggplant skin adds a nice bit smoky flavor to the dish.

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan
Click here for printable recipe

2 zucchini, about 1 lb each
2 Italian eggplant, about 1 lb each
12 oz fresh ricotta
6 oz grated parmesan cheese
6 oz grated mozzarella cheese
16 oz marinara sauce
2-3 Tbsp. fresh herbs (I used basil, thyme, parsley, and oregano), chopped
olive oil

Pre-heat the grill. I used my gas grill outside, but you could also use a grill pan on the stove. I have an All-Clad LTD Grille Pan and I use it all the time, especially when I want to grill something small and quick. But for a batch of vegetables this size, grilling outside was faster, easier, and cooler!

Cut off the ends of the zucchini and slice lengthwise, about 3/8″ thick. Cut off the end of the eggplant and slice lengthwise, about 3/8″ thick. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and grill until tender.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble the dish, put a couple of tablespoons of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish and spread around to cover the bottom of the pan.

Put down a layer of grilled zucchini slices. On top, add some crumbled ricotta (about 4 oz), parmesan cheese (2 oz), mozzarella cheese (2 oz), and dot on top more tomato sauce. Sprinkle on some of the chopped mixed herbs.

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Repeat the process with a layer of grilled eggplant. For the top, I had just enough of zucchini and eggplant to alternate to make a 3rd layer. Top with remaining sauce, cheese, and herbs.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil after 30 min and let the top brown, about 5-10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let rest 5-10 minutes; it’s easier to cut when it cools slightly.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chez US - Denise August 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Kristina, this looks and sounds amazing. I will definitely have to try out your recipe while we can get fresh seasonal zucchini & eggplant. Thank you for sharing it!

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2 Tiffany August 24, 2009 at 7:35 pm

YES! I just walked past a display of beautiful eggplant and told my husband I wouldn’t buy any until I found a recipe.

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3 formerchef August 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Tiffany- I know how you feel about eggplant; this is the perfect “starter” dish for you.

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4 chefgwen August 24, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I love this recipe. A good way to serve eggplant to those who think they don’t really like it.

Bet the grilling brings another flavor layer to the dish.

Your grill looks suspiciously like mine. I have a DCS. Love it, but hate to clean it.

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5 Maria August 25, 2009 at 7:11 am

This is my kind of meal! I love grilled veggies and I love the way you put them all together. Fabulous!

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6 Angrboda August 26, 2009 at 12:44 am

My boyfriend is vegetarian and for Meat-eater Me it’s always a challenge coming up with something to cook for him when we eat at my place.
This looks good though and not too difficult (and not only because I can prepare it in advance so all we have to do is put it in the oven. Win!), I’ll definitely try this the next time. :)

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7 formerchef August 26, 2009 at 6:31 am

Yes, you can absolutely prepare this in advance! If it’s going from refrigerator to oven though, it may need a slightly longer cooking time. Enjoy!

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8 Angrboda September 14, 2009 at 6:22 am

We tried it now. Enormous success. Thanks. :9

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9 Frank Miles September 5, 2009 at 3:19 am

I made this and it was excellent, really excellent. Now I’d like to know if you can provide a low-fat zucchini lasagna somewhat like Stouffer’s lean cuisine used to make, but better.

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10 formerchef September 5, 2009 at 6:06 am

I’ve never had Stouffer’s zucchini lasagna, but I imagine you could recreate it along the same lines as this recipe. Did it have actually pasta in it or was it replaced with just the zucchini?
I would grill the zucchini still, using a non-stick spray like Pam to keep it from sticking to the grill (yes, the spays work great when grilling and will have less calories and fat than the olive oil). Grilling the zucchini will remove some of the water from it so it doesn’t become soupy when you bake it. Then, I would use low or non fat ricotta and mozzarrella cheeses in the dish. Finally, with Lean Cuisines, it’s all about portion control; they are so low in calories because the portions are quite small. After you make it, you could probably freeze the leftovers in individual portions a la Lean Cuisine.

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11 jack fasciano September 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Just like my mother and my aunts used to make when I was a kid. Delizioso! I went to the farmers market and got the ingredients and I’ve been cooking all day. I made enough to give to my grown daughter and her family, even my ex-wife picked up a pan. Its been forty years since my last eggplant lasagna and I owned an Italian restaurant for forty-six years.I must admit, I’m a meat lover, so I stewed some grilled Italian sausage links in the marinara for a couple of hours. You know how it is, I had to add my own touch. Thanks for bring back to mind a fantastic comfort food.

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12 formerchef September 6, 2009 at 4:10 pm

The addition of sausage is never a bad thing! Sounds great, thanks for letting me know.

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13 Marcy September 21, 2009 at 7:51 am

Kristina…

I am going to make this recipe this weekend (well, at least attempt to make it!) for my mom and friend as a pre-Rome celebration…along with a bottle of Orvieto Classico! :)

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14 formerchef September 21, 2009 at 7:54 am

Marcy-You can do it! Let me know if you have questions.

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15 Donald July 30, 2010 at 8:13 am

out of all of the eggplant parms i have seen, this in the one that most resembles my personal intentions! excellent dish, BTW.

i will be adding some ricotta to my evil plan thanks to you. my plan is simple tho, grill some eggplant and portobellos, layer covering with mortadella and smoked mozzarella.

i really like the fact that since i am grilling the fruit, i don’t have to salt and press and there is way less soupyness.

nice site BTW

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16 Lyndsay August 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I cant wait to try this, thanks so much for sharing it! Im curious what you made to go with it?

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17 formerchef August 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I just made this for dinner last night. All we had with it was some freshly baked french bread. It’s pretty much a meal all in itself.

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18 Lyndsay August 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I was considering steaming the eggplant instead of grilling it. Do you think the dish would come out pretty close or is grilling it pretty essential?

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19 formerchef August 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I’m not sure. I do like the charred flavor the grill imparts to the eggplant. Also, I’d be concerned that the steaming might make it absorb water, which might come out during the baking process and make it soggy. Were you going to grill the zucchini anyway? Or leave it out?
Honestly, I can’s say it’s “essential” but it will probably change the flavor and texture of the dish. Give it a shot and let me know how it comes out!

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20 Lyndsay August 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I went ahead and grilled both the zucchini and the eggplant, and Im glad I did. You are right i gave the dish flavor. I was kinda nervous about this dish because it was my first adventure with eggplant but it was so good, my husband loved it as well!

21 Helen January 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Yummmmmmmm. I’ve made eggplant parmesan one time for a vegetarian friend of mine, and this looks much better. Gonna try it tomorrow!!

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22 formerchef January 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Great! Let me know how it goes!

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23 Helen January 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

WOW! It’s just like Plug n Play devices for a computer. Just follow the directions, and you have outstanding results…. I’m so glad I have enough for leftovers, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have enough to send to my veggie friend.

Thank you so very much for having a website and publishing your recipes.

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24 formerchef January 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thanks! I’m glad you liked it!

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25 Marla June 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Love that you grilled the veggies for this……just added to my post tomorrow.

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26 formerchef June 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Thanks, I’ll make sure to check it out!

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27 Kim July 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

This looks sooooooo good!!!!!!! I can’t wait to make it next weekend. I think I will add some grilled portabellas too. Thanks for the recipe!

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28 formerchef July 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Funny, I was just thinking of making this again today with the first zucchini from this year’s garden. Grilled portabellas sound good too.

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29 laura bogdan September 12, 2011 at 10:59 am

Great recipes! Thanks much.
Laura

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30 kelsey November 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm

i don’t own a grill :( is there any way I could fry the veggies or roast them first instead of grilling?

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31 formerchef November 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Of course you can cook the vegetables another way, but frying them will make the dish heavier and less healthy. You could also lay them out on a sheet pan and roast them a little in oven. Or, you can buy a stove top grill pan. This is the exact one I have: All-Clad Nonstick Grill Pan
I like it a lot and have used it for over a decade (it came as part of my whole All Clad set). You can find similar, less expensive, grill pans out there too, just make sure they are heavy duty.

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32 formerchef August 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know.

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