I wanted to try this Food Network recipe because I’m always looking for dishes that allow me to experience the nirvana of Eggplant Parmesan without actually having to bread and fry eggplant.
Those of you who read my food entries regularly know that I swear by Ina Garten’s Roasted Eggplant Parmesan. As I’ve said before, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. But even that recipe is still a bit of production. This one isn’t.
You begin by toasting ciabatta rolls and making a very quick marinara sauce that consists only of canned cherry tomatoes (don’t substitute these; they have very pleasing sweetness and texture), red pepper flakes and lots of garlic. (I added a tiny bit of onion and a pinch of sugar to mine.)
The meat of the sandwiches is the eggplant, which is simply brushed with olive oil, seasoned and grilled for about 4 minutes on each side.
You assemble the sandwiches by putting the eggplant (I let the mozzarella slices melt on the eggplant while it was grilling on the second side) on the rolls, a generous spoonful of marinara, some Pecorino and few whole mint leaves. It’s that easy, and it is absolutely amazing, especially for a dish that comes together so quickly.
NOTE: Do not be tempted to substitute another herb for the mint. It is one of the best features of this dish. It’s this really zingy surprise that cuts through all the richness of the cheese and olive oil.