Makes:4 to 6 servings
Oozing with melted cheese, classic baked eggplant Parmesan may not be everyone’s first choice for dinner on a sultry summer night. That’s why we took all the elements of eggplant Parmesan and turned it into a grilled bread salad. Sliced and grilled bread is rubbed with a bit of garlic, like bruschetta, torn into pieces, and tossed with grilled cherry tomatoes and eggplant. Fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil are added at the end, and everything is tossed with a tangy herbed vinaigrette to produce a hearty side salad or the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal.
Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush for this recipe.
8 ounces (about 1/2 loaf) crusty Italian or French bread, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoonsolive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
13 to 15 (10-inch) wooden or metal skewers (soak the wooden skewers in warm water for at least 30 minutes to avoid burning on the grill)
10 ouncescherry tomatoes
1 poundeggplant (about 1 medium), trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
15 medium fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 1/2 ouncesParmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler and crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
For the dressing:
Whisk the oil, vinegar, shallots, and oregano in a medium, nonreactive bowl until combined, and then season with salt and pepper; set aside.
For the salad:
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F).
Meanwhile, arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Using 1 tablespoon of the oil, very lightly brush the tops of the bread and season with salt and pepper. Flip the slices over and brush with 1 more tablespoon of the oil; season with salt and pepper.
When the grill is ready, place the bread on the grill and set the baking sheet aside. Cook, flipping once, until grill marks appear on both sides and the bread is crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Return the grilled bread to the baking sheet and lightly rub one side of each piece with the garlic clove (you will not need to use the entire clove). Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl; set the bowl and baking sheet aside.
Thread the tomatoes and eggplant onto the skewers and place on the reserved baking sheet. Brush all of the skewers with the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Place the tomato and eggplant skewers on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened and warmed through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato skewers to the baking sheet. Continue to grill the eggplant until softened and all sides are slightly charred, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the eggplant skewers to the baking sheet.
Remove the tomatoes and eggplant from the skewers and place in the bowl with the bread. Immediately add the mozzarella and basil and toss to combine. Whisk the dressing again and pour over the salad. Add the Parmesan and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature.