Eggplant with Caprese "Salsa"

Contributor: Carla Bayot
Prep Time
Cook Time 
Total Time
20 mins
40 mins
1 hr
 INGREDIENTS
DIRECTIONS
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, slivered, plus a few whole sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving (optional)
  • 2 cylindrical slender eggplants (about one pound each), cut crosswise into half inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, seeds and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 piece fresh mozzarella cheese (about 5 ounces), drained, if necessary, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and black pepper
  1. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with the salt and disgorge the eggplants. To disgorge the eggplants, arrange the slices in a single layer on a large rack places over a baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle both sides generously with coarse salt.
  2. After 30 minutes, tiny beads of bitter juices will form on the surface of the eggplants. Rinse these off under cold water and blot the eggplants dry with paper towels.
  3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat too high.
  4. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold water and blot dry with paper towels. Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil over them, rubbing the oil over the slices with your fingers or a pastry brush. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with half of the oregano, black pepper, hot paper flakes, if using, garlic, and parsley. Turn the eggplant slices, drizzle with the remaining oil, and sprinkle with the remaining oregano, black pepper, hot pepper flakes, garlic, and parsley.
  5. When ready to cook, arrange the eggplant slices on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned on both sides, 5-8 minutes per side. Rotate the slices 90 degrees after 3 minutes to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. If the eggplant starts to burn before the slices are tender, lower the heat or move the slices to a cooler section of the grill. Transfer the eggplant slices to plates or a platter and let cool to room temperature. The grilled eggplants can be kept in the refrigerator, covered, for 24 hours. Arrange the eggplant slices in a shingle pattern.
  6. Make the caprese "salsa": Combine the tomato, mozzarella, basil, oil, and lemon juice in a nonreactive mixing bowl but don't mix them. The "salsa" can be prepared up to this stage several hours ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.
  7. When ready to serve, add salt and pepper to the "salsa" and gently toss to mix. Spoon the "salsa" and gently toss to mix. Spoon the "salsa" over the eggplant and garnish with lemon wedges, if using and basil sprigs.

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