#1 Rule of Cooking: Food should taste like what it is and nothing else.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Good food should taste like food. Good food doesn’t need lots of stuff on it to make it taste good — it should already taste good. Good food doesn’t need to be messed with too much. Good food means that cooking is just combining flavors.
I love eggplant parm and my husband loves chicken parm. I am often hesitant to order it in restaurants, though, because there is always the risk that it is going to be drowning in sauce and choked with cheese. Is there eggplant in here or am I eating fried stuff with sauce and cheese? That isn’t good food to me, and it certainly isn’t healthy food.
Key ingredients in a good parmagiana (my opinion, of course):
- Eggplant or chicken (or veal or whatever you like)
- Tomato sauce of some sort
I know it is traditionally fried but I don’t like it. Sorry, Parma. I just don’t think it is necessary. I’m going to combine these delicious flavors using natural ingredients and make a delicious healthy parmagiana. That’s right — HEALTHY parmagiana. And let’s keep his simple… please.
Grilled Chicken and/or Eggplant Parm
- Chicken breasts
- Eggplant (I used the one from my CSA)
- 3-4 small tomatoes (I used the plum tomatoes from my CSA, but any kind would work fine)
- Fresh basil (dried is fine if that’s what you have)
- Cheese (I used smoked mozzarella — whatever you like would be fine)
- Garlic powder
- Cracked red pepper (optional)
- Salt & pepper
For the chicken: I like to either pound it thin or just slice it through the center horizontally. That means it cooks faster which means it doesn’t dry out. Season with a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
For the eggplant: Cut the ends off. Slice into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Right before you are going to grill them, brush with canola or olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. The eggplant will absorb all of the oil, so don’t do this in advance.
Put the chicken and the eggplant on a hot grill. Once they have grill marks, flip. They will both cook at about the same rate: fast! When they are done, remove them from the grill.
For the sauce: I put a few plum tomatoes on the grill just until they had some nice char. Make sure your grill is super hot! You want that char but you don’t want the tomatoes to get too mushy inside. Just a couple minutes on the grill should do it. Chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt, some fresh basil, and a little shake of cracked red pepper for heat.
For the cheese: This is up to you. I used a nice smoked mozzarella. It was awesome! It gave me some trouble while I was slicing it, so I decided to dice it. I tossed the chunks in with the tomatoes and spread it all over the top. It worked out great! It also meant that I used a little less cheese than I probably would have otherwise, which made this dish just a tad healthier.
Assembly: In a roasting dish**, lay out the grilled chicken and/or the eggplant. Spread that delicious tomato and mozzarella mixture over the top. Get it all covered! Put the dish back on the grill until the cheese gets all nice and melty. This shouldn’t take too long — maybe 5-10 min. Check on it every now and then.
And that’s it! Fabulous grilled chicken and/or eggplant parm. It was delicious, light, SUPER flavorful, and healthy. Best of all, it tasted like what it should’ve tasted like! Tomatoes, chicken, eggplant, basil, smokey cheese… no thick breading or oily mess. Just straight up YUM.
**UPDATE: Apparently you’re not supposed to put Pyrex on a direct heat source like the grill. My bad! It survived, but I don’t want to give you potentially dangerous advice.