Slice the ends off the eggplant and then slice the rest into rounds about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and set aside. The salt draws out some of the moisture in the eggplant. Some people say it gets rid of the bitterness, but I don’t taste any bitterness in eggplant so I’m not sure about that. I find that it makes the eggplant creamier and less spongy. Whatever your reason, salting your eggplant definitely makes it better.
While your eggplant is sitting, you can make a quick sauce if you like. I like to use a can of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes (they use BPA free cans!), garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper plus a splash of balsamic. Add a little of everything and let it simmer. Taste. Need more of something? Add it. Let it simmer. Repeat until it is delicious.
Jarred sauce is just fine if that’s what your family likes.
Slice your mozzarella if you need to do that. If you’re using the fresh mozzarella that is sitting in water, be sure to let your slices drain in a colander before you use them. Otherwise you’ll have watery eggplant parm.
Slice your basil. Stack the leaves and roll. Then slice into ribbons – that’s called chiffonade if you want to be fancy about it.
Heat your grill to medium heat. Not too hot! You want your eggplant to cook through, not burn. If you’re unsure of the heat, lean towards too low than too high.
When everything is ready, rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry. Just before you’re about to put them on the grill, brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle with a little dried oregano and/or thyme just for that extra flavor kick.
Put the eggplant oiled side down. Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes before you check on it. Peak at a few slices and see that they are getting brown but not burning. Just before they are ready to flip, brush with olive oil. Flip.
Once you have flipped, put a little sauce and cheese on each slice of eggplant. While they grill, the cheese will need time to melt. By the time the cheese is bubbly and gooey, they will be perfectly cooked.
Remove from the grill and sprinkle with those ribbons of basil to serve.
This dish has that sweetness from the tomato, rich gooiness of the cheese, and the smokiness from the grilled eggplant. Serve over pasta or by itself. Chop it up as finger food for your little one! It is a dish the whole family will enjoy.