Grilled Eggplant Caprese

published Sep 7, 2022
summer
Grilled Eggplant Caprese Recipe

To tuck in more seasonality in between the red, white, and green layers of a caprese salad, look towards grilled eggplant.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook6 minutes to 9 minutes

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caprese salad in a plate
Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

This recipe is part of Kitchn 100 — the hundred recipes you need right now. Check out all of the amazing dishes, from Kitchn and beyond, here.

It’s hard to beat a late-summer caprese salad. The classic combination of juicy tomatoes, milky mozzarella, and fragrant basil is understated perfection at its very best. While it’s hardly traditional, there’s one ingredient I also love to slip between the red, white, and green layers to bulk up the salad and make it even more seasonally dressed: tender grilled eggplant.

Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

The Simplest Way to Upgrade Caprese Salad

I’ll be the first to agree that an Italian caprese doesn’t need to be tinkered with. However, I’ve come to love adding eggplant because it adds one extra layer of texture and flavor to the equation. Bringing in one more vegetable also turns it into something I feel even more confident serving as the only side to whatever main I am enjoying, whether it’s grilled fish, burgers, or something in between. Plus, eggplant isn’t just any vegetable: It’s a hearty one, which makes this caprese twist hefty enough to also be the meatless main event, paired with nothing but good bread on the side to soak up that wonderful mix of tomato juices, olive oil, and balsamic that’s left behind on the plate.

Welcome to Mediterranean MondaySheela Prakash‘s monthly column of Mediterranean recipes. Here, Sheela will teach you all about the Mediterranean diet’s feel-good way of cooking and eating, and share vibrant, easygoing recipes. Cook with us using #mediterraneanmonday, and for even more great recipes, order a copy of Sheela’s cookbook Mediterranean Every Day.

Grilled Eggplant Caprese Recipe

To tuck in more seasonality in between the red, white, and green layers of a caprese salad, look towards grilled eggplant.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 6 minutes to 9 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    globe eggplant (about 2 small or 1 medium)

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

  • 1 pound

    medium heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes (2 to 3)

  • 1 (8-ounce) ball

    fresh mozzarella cheese

  • Handful fresh basil leaves

  • 2 tablespoons

    aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze

  • Flaky salt, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat an outdoor grill for medium-high, direct heat (about 400ºF).

  2. Trim 1 pound eggplant and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil onto both sides of the slices. Season all over with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  3. Core and slice 1 pound medium heirloom tomatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Slice 1 (8-ounce) fresh mozzarella ball into 1/2-inch thick rounds; halve the slices if large, they should be about the same size as the eggplant and tomato slices.

  4. When the grill is ready, scrape the grill grates clean if needed. Place the eggplant on the grill in a single layer. Cover and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the eggplant, cover, and continue to grill until grill marks form on the other side and the eggplant is very tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Return to the baking sheet.

  5. Arrange the eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella slices in an overlapping pattern on a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze.

  6. Tear a handful of basil leaves into small pieces if large; otherwise keep them whole. Sprinkle the basil over the top. Garnish with a generous pinch of flaky salt and several grinds of black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.