Grilled Eggplant Caprese Salad
Blogging can be so fickle—trying to judge what's going to hit and what will flop is a losing game. For example, when I made this grilled eggplant caprese salad, I was so enamored by its flavor and presentation, I could barely wait to release this beautiful creation into the tubes of the internet. I quickly shared it with my Serious Eaters and awaited the accolades that were sure to come from creating and photographing such a dish, but it stood dorment, a dud. This is just how it goes, my tastes aren't everyones, but I'm still in love with this salad, and I think as Meatwavers, you all should have a chance to experience it, in even greatly glory than I originally gave it.
Eggplant has been somewhat torturous for me to get around on the grill. I've found there's certain ways to prepare it that I love, while other ways that make me feel like I'm eating a bowl of mush. To avoid the later, I've settled on a process that involves slicing the eggplant thin, then salting the slices about 30 minutes prior to grilling. The thin slices means more delicious grilled exterior and less mushy interior, and the salting helps draw out both moisture and some bitterness to enhance the texture and flavor.
The eggplant grills up fast, so it's best to prepare the mise en place. For this salad it's not much: sliced mozzarella, sliced tomato, basil chiffonade, balsamic vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. With a simple salad such at this, each ingredient really counts, so don't go old discount fruit or Polly-O here. I opted for beautiful heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella from my favorite spot on Arthur Ave in the Bronx, and high quality balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil.
Everything in place, a brush of oil on the eggplant, and it's off to the grill.
Slices of eggplant about a 1/4-inch thick grill up so gorgeous. They're thick enough to hold up and develop a great brown crust, while the salted eggplant looses some mass to end with a sturdy slice where the flavor of the grill dominates. In my opinion, the grill is the best way to get the most out of this fruit that doesn't have much flavor to speak of itself.
These beautifully grilled pieces of eggplant are then formed into a towering salad—layered with the tomato and mozzarella, drizzled with vinegar and oil, and finished with a sprinkling of basil. The eggplant adds an extra creaminess and grilled flavor that plays off of the freshness of the mozzarella, tomato, and basil, while the vinegar adds a contrasting sharp tang and bite. So much flavor, so easy to make, and so impressive to look at, I think this is one hell of a grilled salad, and I'd bet you'd agree too if you gave it a try.
Grilled Eggplant Caprese Salad
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 30 Minutes
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 55 Minutes
- 1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/4 cup of basil chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place eggplant slices in a colander set inside a large bowl. Toss eggplant with kosher salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Wipe eggplant dry with paper towels
- 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 entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush both sides eggplant slices lightly with oil. Place on the grill and cook until well browned on each side, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill.
- Place one slice of eggplant on a plate and stack with 1 slice tomato, 1 slice mozzarella, another slice of eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, and one final slice of eggplant. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with pepper to taste and sprinkle with basil. Repeat to make 3 additional stacks and serve.
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Chris I know what you mean about what gets views/comments and what doesn't. Sometimes I think I have the greatest post ever and it just fizzles. Then I do a post on a lark without an actual recipe (Spaghetti and meatball pot pie) and it becomes my highest traffic post ever by several orders of magnitude.
I think you created this dish with a perfect touch.