Grilling benefits eggplant parmigiana in several ways. First, you eliminate a lot of the oil and oil-soaked breading. There’s the charred cedar plank, which adds another layer of flavor and cool factor. Finally, my grilled version is a lot quicker, easier, and less messy to make than traditional eggplant parm, and it tastes cleaner too.

Serves 4

Grill/Gear: Can be grilled over charcoal or gas. You’ll also need 4 square untreated cedar planks (6x6 inches) or 2 long planks

  • 1 medium or 2 small eggplants (about 12 ounces in all – you’ll need 12 slices)
  • Extra virgin olive oil for brushing and drizzling
  • Coarse salt (sea salt or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dried oregano flakes, preferably Italian
  • Vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate
  • 12 ounces fresh burrata, sliced (cream reserved), or mozzarella
  • 2 cups Smoked Tomato Sauce (see book) or  your favorite chunky tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup freshly and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 4 basil leaves, thinly slivered (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried plain breadcrumbs, preferably homemade, or panko (optional)

1. Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high. Char the cedar planks on one side, about 2 minutes – long enough for them to darken and smoke, but not so long they catch fire. Set aside and let cool on a heatproof surface.

2. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices. Lightly brush each on both sides with olive oil and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and oregano.

3. Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.

4. Arrange the eggplant slices on the grate. Grill until well browned on both sides and soft in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant on a preheated plancha. Transfer the eggplant slices to a rimmed sheet pan and let cool.

5. Assemble the parmigianas: place a slice of eggplant on each plank (2 slices if using long planks). Top each slice with a slice of burrata (spoon on some of the cream as well), followed by a generous dollop of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a tuft of slivered basil (if using). Build the second layer of eggplant, burrata, tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and basil. Crown with a slice of eggplant. If you like a crisp top, sprinkle the top eggplant slice with breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. The eggplant parmigianas can be assembled and refrigerated several hours ahead of time and grilled at the last minute.

6. Return the parmigianas on their planks to the grill (but now away from the heat). Indirect grill until the tomato sauce is bubbling, the cheese is melted, and the tops are browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the parmigianas on their planks.