For a summery version of the classically vegetarian-friendly dish, we grill the eggplant slices until they're soft and smoky, then top them with buttery melted mozzarella. The fresh tomato and basil topping harnesses some of the best flavors of the season, and makes a light, juicy counterpart to the tender eggplant underneath.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- For the Fresh Tomato Topping:
- 6 medium tomatoes, cut into a small dice (about 3 cups)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or grated on a microplane grater (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- For the Eggplant:
- 2 medium to large eggplants, sliced horizontally into 1/2" thick rounds (about 16 slices)
- Olive oil, for brushing on eggplant
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds (about 16 slices)
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, preheat a gas grill to high, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
While grill is preheating, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, and extra-virgin olive oil in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and toss to combine.
Using a pastry brush, brush eggplant generously with olive oil on both sides, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
When grill is hot, add eggplant slices and cook, covered, until eggplant is well-browned on one side, 3-4 minutes. Flip slices and top each with one slice of fresh mozzarella. Cover grill and cook until cheese is melted and eggplant is tender, 3-4 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a serving platter and top with tomato mixture. Serve hot or at room temperature.