Perfecting Eggplant Parmigiana

One of the things we like best about the Weber Genesis is the ability to cook a quick meal outdoors on a summer evening, and we delight in finding ways to adapt recipes that we would usually cook inside. Eggplant has turned out to be one of our favorite vegetables to  take to the gas grill. The charring and smoke add a depth of flavor to dishes like Eggplant Parmigiana without the mess and added fats of the traditional fried cooking method.

We’ve been refining this recipe for nearly three years now, and finally have it more or less perfect. The eggplant gets sliced into rounds about a quarter of an inch thick, salted on both sides and placed on a wire rack to sweat for an hour or so. This step is less about seasoning and more about drawing out some of the moisture and bitterness. We wipe off the salt, and then each slice gets a quick dip in some beaten egg before getting dredged in a mixture of seasoned Italian and Japanese breadcrumbs. The Panko crumbs add some additional crunch to the breading, which is important since we’re not frying.

Then the eggplant goes on the plancha on the pre-heated Genesis, after a little olive oil spray. It only takes a few minutes to get them nicely charred on the outside and fairly tender throughout. Then they go into a foil pan with cheese and sauce, and back out to the Genesis to finish cooking and warming through over indirect heat. We serve them with whatever pasta strikes our fancy.

The whole family agreed that this last batch we cooked was the most delicious we’d ever tasted.

Tagliarini Casserole and Grilled Mushroom Caps

I wanted to make an atomic age retro dinner this week, so it was casserole time.

Tagliarini is a sort of a smaller version of tagliatelle, and it’s the main ingredient in this casserole recipe from Eat Me Daily. I served it with an Italian steakhouse house salad and Portabella mushrooms with herbed cheese and pine nuts. The wine was a Spanish Temrparnillo.

I was a little nervous about the salad, since I’d never made a dressing with anchovies before. It turned out fine, and I’ll likely make it again. The Portabellas were delicious too, and it was worth the effort to remove the gills, something I’d not bothered with in the past. We used a really tasty garlic and herb cheese. I didn’t make it to the store for planks, so these were cooked on a veggie grill pan, and ended up a little messy since the cheese melted through the slits. Would definitely try them on the planks next time.

The casserole was hearty, but a little disappointing. Next time, we’ll include some additional seasoning, either herbs (maybe some oregano) or some sort of canned ingredient to spice things up. Perhaps a can of Campbell’s mushroom or tomato soup (staples of the 1950s casserole) would do the trick. Whatever we add, I’d like it to remain authentic to the low brow mid-century casserole tradition.

The weather was cool here, so I baked the casserole in the oven (to warm up the house) instead of on the Weber Genesis, and almost felt guilty.

Salsiccia con Peperoni

Salsiccia con Peperoni

I cooked the peppers and onions in a pan on the grill, grilled the Italian Sausages, and then added them to a pan where I had sautéed garlic in olive oil, and finally stirred in some fresh-picked oregano and basil.

We served it with mostaccioli.