Casseroles are built to be baked, and it is not usually worth the effort it takes to reinvent them for the grill, but in this case, the charred bits that speckle the eggplant and the flavor of fire that permeates the sauce give this traditional Italian vegetable casserole a whole new identity. The biggest effect comes from grilling the vegetables before they are layered in the casserole; cooking the casserole itself on the grill doesn’t do much, although it does let you avoid having to heat up the oven.
Prep: 15 minutes
Grill: About 30 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled spatula or tongs
– 9-by-13-inch grill-safe baking dish.
BAKING INSTEAD OF GRILLING
– Instead of cooking the rollatine on the grill, you can finish them in a 350°F oven; bake for about 20 minutes.
Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (350° to 400°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 8 SERVINGS)
2 large eggplants (about 1 pound each)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
Oil for coating grill grate
1 can (28 ounces) crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
32 fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup)
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 long, thin pieces
3 tablespoons (about ¾ ounce) shaved imported Parmesan cheese.
1. Heat the grill as directed.
2. Cut both ends of both eggplants flat. One at a time, stand the eggplants on end and cut into lengthwise ¼-inch-thick slices. You should get 8 per eggplant.
3. Mix ¼ cup of the olive oil, 2 cloves of the garlic, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper in a small bowl. Brush the eggplant slices with a thin film of the oil mixture. Season the slices with another ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
4. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the eggplant slices on the grill directly over the heat, cover, and cook until browned and tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning halfway through. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 375°F. 5. If using a 3- or 4-burner grill, turn off the middle burner(s). If using a 2-burner grill, turn off one side; cover.
6. Mix the crushed tomatoes in a large bowl with 2 cloves of the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Chop 16 of the basil leaves finely and stir in.
7. Mix the pieces of mozzarella, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the remaining clove of garlic in a separate bowl.
8. Spoon half of the tomato mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
9. Place a basil leaf at one end of an eggplant slice. Top with a piece of cheese with the oil and garlic clinging to it and roll up the eggplant slice around the cheese. Put seam-side down on the tomato sauce. Roll up the remaining eggplant slices and cheese in the same way and pack them snugly into the baking dish. Top with the remaining tomato mixture, and scatter the Parmesan over the top.
10. Put the baking dish on the grill away from the direct heat, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, until bubbling all around the edge. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 350°F.
11. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve 2 eggplant rolls to each person.