Eggplant parmesan is one of our favorite dishes. (Somehow I didn’t know it existed until the past few years, but I’ve since learned it’s one of the more popular meatless entrées.) While the eggplant in the traditional version is generally breaded and deep fried, we’d found a great version that calls for simply baking the eggplant before layering it with cheese and tomato sauce.
Now that eggplant is in season, I was looking forward to trying it out again. But who wants to make a baked casserole in the heat of summer? Plus, an idea for deconstructed eggplant parmesan got me thinking – why not deconstruct it even further? Enter – the eggplant parmesan salad.
It’s got all the elements of eggplant parmesan: eggplant, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, parmesan, olive oil, bread – and even the greens from the side salad – combined into a single bowl.
The benefits of this version over the traditional? It’s much quicker and easier to prepare, and eating the ingredients fresh without the deep frying makes it a whole lot healthier.
And the taste? So fresh and delicious, I don’t think I’ll need to make the traditional version for a while. (Not until some cooler weather, at least!)
Thanks to Anita of Homestead Growers for growing the delicious eggplant!
- 1 to 1½ pounds eggplant of any type (to get the small rounds shown above, we used Japanese eggplant)
- Cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint)
- Spinach or other salad greens
- Mozzarella balls (such as those from a grocery olive bar; you also could cut cubes of fresh or deli mozzarella)
- Parmesan cheese
- Handful fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Aged balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Homemade croutons (if desired)
- Broil the eggplant: Preheat a broiler to high, with the rack about 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Cut eggplant into slices. Brush each side with olive oil; place the slices on a baking sheet, and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Broil for about 10 minutes total, flipping the slices halfway, until the eggplant is soft. Brush with additional oil if the eggplant dries out. (If you use a globe eggplant, cut the large slices into bite-sized pieces after cooking.) You also can grill the eggplant using this method.
- Alternative method – sauté the eggplant: Cut the eggplant into bite-sized chunks. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet; add the eggplant and sauté until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add more olive oil if the eggplant gets too dry. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Prepare the other ingredients: Wash and dry the salad greens. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the mozzarella balls in half (or cube the mozzarella). Chiffonade the basil. Shave the Parmesan.
- Plate the salad: On each plate or bowl, pile a large helping of salad greens. Top with cooked eggplant, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, Parmesan shavings, and croutons (if desired). Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (or your favorite vinaigrette), and top with a sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.