Pairing note For this smoky version of eggplant Parmesan, Sam Calagione and Marnie Old looked for a beer and a wine that could stand up to the grilled eggplant without overwhelming it. Sam opted for Guinness. "People often think dark beers are heavy in body, alcohol and calories," he said. "I like that Guinness has roasty flavors but is still relatively light." Marnie chose a cherry-tinged Rioja mellowed by several years of aging: 2000 La Rioja Alta Vińa Alberdi Reserva.
8 1/2-inch-thick slices of peasant bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
2 1/4-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/2 pound buffalo mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 basil leaves, torn
Coarse sea salt
How to Make It
Light a grill. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter.
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat until charred on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 3 minutes longer.
Top the eggplant with the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese melts, 2 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the bread, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.