Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette
The past two days have been a whirlwind of moving misery excitement. Logan and I physically moved apartments at the end of June, but we’ve been bouncing around since then (Idaho, Colorado, my mom’s apartment, Maine, etc.), and now that we’re back in New York, we’re finally taking the time to tackle our new space.
Obviously, returning from Maine to an apartment full of boxes and limited air conditioning was not good for my anxiety. However, I have been systematically unpacking my hoards, furniture has been delivered, and I’ve enjoyed two full nights’ sleep on our new king bed. (How my roommate and I have been sharing a queen for so long is now beyond me. I live to starfish.)
As previously mentioned, this new apartment is a serious upgrade from our former abode. In addition to having numerous doors (whoooooop!), a real live hallway, and a dishwasher, I finally have a kitchen with actual counter space and an office! Plus, the joint decorating of this place means that there are more grown-up furnishings and less Widespread Panic posters, which is good for my overall sense of well-being.
Perhaps the most exciting upgrade to speak of is the fact that I now have two closets. One of them is technically a canvas-covered hanging rack in my office, but hoarders can’t be choosers, and I’m actually okay with working in such close proximity to my clothes. In fact, it’s kind of comforting. Plus, I’m very proud of myself for building myself said closet. The directions said “1-hour assembly time,” and I did it in like 59 minutes, so I feel pretty good about that.
I also uncovered an old telephone handset in my hoards yesterday, and when Time Warner comes today, I’m going to have them install the landline in my office. This will be awesome for a couple of reasons. I’ve always wanted a phone number to write on the “Work Number” line when I fill out forms, and I’m very much looking forward to the day that my future assistant picks up that handset and says, “Serena Wolf’s office.” So grown-up.
Needless to say, there have been a few unlucky move-in mishaps, including bumps, bruises, and a scary situation in which my new “closet” almost collapsed on me. I’m convinced that these accidents are attributable to the mirror I broke when moving out of our last apartment. I have been very concerned over the past month about my upcoming seven years of bad luck, even though my roommate has repeatedly told me that I’m being “ridiculous and superstitious.” I’m pretty sure he’s eating those words after super-gluing his fingers together yesterday. Let’s just hope that the good luck from the bird that pooped on me last week starts kicking in soon.
Despite these minor debacles, things are slowly falling into place around here, and I couldn’t be happier. Last night was our second night in the apartment, and I figured it was a good time to break in my shiny new kitchen. (I also didn’t want to go back to Chipotle for the second night in a row, lest Logan suffer a stroke from excitement over the thought that I am on board with daily Chipotle visits.) I felt the need to make something fabulous to celebrate the start of this new chapter in my life, which I shall call “Transition to Grown-up Living: Part 1.” Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil Vinaigrette was just the thing for the occasion.
I’m psyched that this was the first thing to come out of my new kitchen. Simple and delicious, Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette is rustic, yet fancy, and it’s perfect for summer. The eggplant only takes 15 minutes to cook, which means that you’ll spend minimal time slaving over a hot grill/grill pan in the heat, and the rest of the dish can be assembled in practically no time. Plus, everyone loves grilled things in summer. Fact.
I’m really digging eggplant right now, people, and I strongly suggest you take advantage of their abundance before summer runs out. If you’re not into eggplant, I get it. A lot of people aren’t superstars when it comes to cooking this fruit (knowledge bomb: eggplant is a fruit), and it can often come out undercooked and spongy, or overcooked, oily and flavorless. However, this perfectly grilled eggplant might just convert you. With the right amount of olive oil and a little bit of salt, the grilled rounds become nicely brown on the outside and amazingly creamy on the inside. Try it.
Tender grilled eggplant is the perfect base for fresh, creamy mozzarella. Diced summer tomatoes add brightness and texture, and the basil vinaigrette ties everything together. This vinaigrette is a straight up winner in many respects. It has the slightly sweet and garlicky flavors of basil pesto with a subtle kick of acidity from a splash of red wine vinegar. It’s light, bright and a very pretty shade of green.
In terms of presentation you’ve got all kinds of sexy options for this grilled eggplant masterpiece. Serve it on a rectangular platter (as depicted), arrange it in a circular pattern on a large plate, or make individual eggplant and mozzarella stacks. This grilled eggplant can be eaten on its own as a light meal, since eggplant is surprisingly hearty, and it’s an incredibly versatile side dish. Try it alongside chicken paillard, over a mesclun salad, or on top of a piece of grilled country bread a la bruschetta.
If you happen to be cooking for one (love it) or two (nice work), please give this recipe a try. It keeps beautifully in the fridge and travels well, so I guarantee that you won’t regret having some leftovers. I also like the idea of chopping the leftovers up the next day and tossing them with quinoa or making a gourmet eggplant grilled cheese. I’m leaning toward the grilled cheese. Hop to it, friends.
Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette: (Serves 4-6)
2 large eggplants, sliced into ¾-inch rounds
¼ cup plus ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large tomato, seeded and diced (I used an heirloom tomato because they’re awesome, but any old tomato will do)
8 ounce fresh mozzarella (1 average ball), sliced into ¼-inch rounds
For the basil vinaigrette:
1/3 cup fresh basil, packed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Preparing your Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette:
-Slice your eggplants into ¾ inch rounds.
-While your eggplant is resting, prepare the basil vinaigrette. Place all of the ingredients for the basil vinaigrette in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
-Heat your grill or grill pan over medium heat. Pat the eggplant dry (the salt will have drawn the excess moisture out of the eggplant…magic!) and brush both sides of each round with olive oil and season with a little extra salt. Grill the rounds for about 8 minutes on each side or until very tender. Remove eggplant from the grill and let it cool to room temperature.
I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Summer Fest this week. For more delicious eggplant recipes, check out the amazing blogs below.
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Eggplant with Sumac, Capers and Mint
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Eggplant Pepper Mushroom Turkey Sausage Hash
Chez Us: Baba Ghanoush
Taste With The Eyes: Cold Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Eggplant Fritter Burgers with Sriracha Chili Mayo
Red or Green: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta with Spicy Carrot Top/Basil Pesto
Weelicious: Eggplant Parmesan Sticks
Devour: 5 Takes on Grilled Eggplant
The Sensitive Epicure: Szechwan Eggplant
And Love It Too: Roasted Garlic Baba Ganouj
FN Dish: Eggplant, No Forks Necessary
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