Cedar-Plank Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

Cedar-plank grilled eggplant Parmesan is nothing short of genius. The eggplant slices are grilled then added as layers to the Parmesan. Best of all: all that flavor is imbued with the smokiness of the cedar.

Adapted from Steven Raichlen | How to Grill Vegetables | Workman Publishing, 2021

Raichlen’s Rule states that if something tastes great baked, fried, or sautéed, it probably tastes better grilled. This brings us to a dish I never imagined I’d cook on the grill: eggplant Parmigiana. Another rule of mine states that if grilling doesn’t measurably improve a dish you might bake, fry, or sauté, you should stick with the traditional method. (Just because you can cook virtually everything on the grill, it doesn’t mean you should.) Well, grilling benefits eggplant Parmigiana in at least four ways. First, you eliminate a lot of the oil and oil-soaked breading. Second, you can introduce an interesting smoke flavor by using a smoky tomato sauce. Third, there’s the charred cedar plank, which adds another layer of flavor and cool factor. Finally, my grilled version is a lot quicker, easier, and less messy to make than traditional eggplant parm, and it tastes cleaner, too.–Steven Raichlen

Cedar-Plank Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

A cedar plank with a knife and fork, and two layered eggplant parmesans, with three metal bowls in the background.

Cedar-plank grilled eggplant Parmesan is nothing short of genius. The eggplant slices are grilled then added as layers to the Parmesan. Best of all: all that flavor is imbued with the smokiness of the cedar.

Steven Raichlen

Prep 30 mins

Cook 30 mins

Total 1 hr

Grill the eggplant

  • Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high. Char the cedar planks on one side until they darken and smoke, but not so long they catch fire, 2 to 4 minutes. Let cool on a heat-proof surface.

  • Meanwhile, cut the eggplant crosswise into 12 slices, each about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Lightly brush each on both sides with olive oil and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  • Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.

  • Arrange the eggplant slices on the grate. Grill until well browned on both sides and soft in the center, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant on a preheated plancha. Transfer the eggplant slices to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Assemble the eggplant parmesan

  • Place a slice of eggplant on each plank (2 slices if using long planks). Top each slice with a slice of burrata (spoon on some of the cream as well), followed by a generous dollop of tomato sauce.

  • Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a tuft of slivered basil, if using. Build the second layer of eggplant, burrata, tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and basil. Crown with a slice of eggplant.

  • If you like a crisp top, sprinkle the top eggplant slice with breadcrumbs and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. The eggplant Parmesans can be assembled and refrigerated several hours ahead of time and grilled at the last minute.

  • Return the assembled eggplant Parmesans on their planks to the grill, placing over indirect heat. Grill until the tomato sauce is bubbling, the cheese is melted, and the tops are browned, 10 to 20 minutes.

  • Serve immediately, preferably still on the cedar planks.

How do I prepare cedar planks for grilling?

In a large container, soak the cedar planks for 15 to 30 minutes. Use a heavy object to keep the planks submerged. Soaking the planks keeps the wood from burning and also keeps the food on top moist during grilling. Some grillers use salted water for soaking, which is nice but not necessary.

I thought you had to soak cedar planks overnight?

That seems to be a common misconception, and one David followed for a long time. But long soaks actually leech the flavor out of the wood, which is the last thing you want. A soak of up to 60 minutes, the maximum, is all you need for optimal results.

Serving: 1portionCalories: 813kcal (41%)Carbohydrates: 34g (11%)Protein: 45g (90%)Fat: 65g (100%)Saturated Fat: 35g (219%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 138mg (46%)Sodium: 1902mg (83%)Potassium: 897mg (26%)Fiber: 5g (21%)Sugar: 12g (13%)Vitamin A: 2498IU (50%)Vitamin C: 17mg (21%)Calcium: 1288mg (129%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Originally published July 19, 2021

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.