Meatless grilling series: eggplant parm paninis

Tofu adds protein to this healthy version of the classic sandwich.

Summer grilling isn't just about meat. In this new series, chefs share vegetarian and vegan recipes that even carnivores will love.

"This version of the Italian staple is lightened by grilling the eggplant rather than breading and frying it," says New York City-based recipe developer and cookbook author Grace Parisi. "Plus, creamy tofu ricotta gives it a delicious, vegan treatment."

Serves 4

7 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 teaspoon miso paste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium eggplant
8 slices sourdough bread
12 basil leaves

1. Pat tofu dry and cut into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a mini food processor along with the miso, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of the garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Pulse until mixture is smooth, evenly combined, and has the texture of ricotta.

2. In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon of the garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. In another small bowl, combine the remaining olive oil with the remaining garlic powder.

3. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. (You can also use the grill directly.) Peel the eggplant and slice into ¼-inch thick rounds. Lightly brush the eggplant with some of the garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant on medium heat, turning occasionally, until tender (about 6 to 8 minutes). Transfer to a plate.

4. Spread the tomato mixture onto each slice of bread and divide the eggplant between 4 slices. Top with basil, tearing any large leaves. Spread the tofu ricotta on the remaining bread. Close the sandwiches and brush both sides with garlic oil. Add to the grill and cook until browned and crisp, turning occasionally (6 to 8 minutes). Transfer to a cutting board.

To Serve:Cut each in half and enjoy while warm.