Ah! First of the season LOCAL beefsteak tomatoes! I can speak for most of my neighbors when I proclaim that we’re so excited for tomato season arriving in the Hudson Valley. This is when we begin to actually eat tomatoes. Hence, you won’t see a tomato in my kitchen until it’s summer, and unless it’s from a reasonably local farm or garden.
Despite these red beauties becoming abundant at the moment, I do have to face the reality that we’re not entirely there yet. The early-season tomatoes that are hitting the farm stands are typically not physiologically mature. Their acids and sugars aren’t well-balanced, their texture is a bit mealy, and their overall quality is only marginally better than our all-season “imports” from the Left Coast. So, during the interim, before the mid-August uptick in quality, I’m getting creative. Whereas green tomatoes always have a place on my table (breaded, fried and dipped in chipotle cream), these early-season beefsteaks are the inspiration for a new take on an old classic….Eggplant Parmesan!
Don’t think about the oil-drenched, calorie-soaked deliciousness of Grandma’s eggplant parm. Think summer. Think backyard grill. Think healthy, deconstructed eggplant parm that begs to be seasoned creatively. To accomplish this, take the key ingredients and prepare a warm weather treat that’s hugely popular with vegetarians and carnivores alike. And don’t be afraid to make a double recipe for lots of leftovers, which can be made into divine eggplant parm sandwiches!
Summer Eggplant Parmesan
1 long eggplant, sliced into 1-inch thick disks
½ lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced in ½-inch thick disks
1 Tbsp oregano or fresh basil (we love the Harmonian Greek Oregano we received as part of our quarterly Mary’s Secret Ingredient gourmet box)
Salt the eggplant disks and let them sit for 5 minutes. Blot the surface with a paper towel then brush with olive oil. Carefully toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Set grill on high. Grill eggplant and tomato disks for about 3 minutes per side.
Line a large plate with tomatoes on top of the mozzarella on top of eggplant (to create a partial melt on the mozzarella). Sprinkle with oregano and serve, warm or cold. Use leftovers to create grilled cheese sandwiches, your style!
Pair with a light, rustic Dolcetto, with a slight chill.