Ok, my kitchen is more or less back together except for a few cabinets, and I couldn’t be happier. Never mind that every other room in the house has its contents spilled out into random hallways or in the living room which we never use. It doesn’t even bother me that we are all still sharing one bathroom … I can cook again! Takeout everyday was putting me in a cranky mood — and when Mama Bear ain’t happy, no one’s happy! I think the novelty of eating out even wore off with Mr. Picky, although my husband keeps trying to remind me that I was “only” inconvenienced for five days. Talk to the hand, dude. Listen, I had to make a fruit crisp on the front porch Wednesday.
I did a great big shop at the grocery store and the farmer’s market on Tuesday and I was giddy with all the possibilities. I think one of the reasons I get so excited when summer produce hits the stands is that I wait for it all year long. Local peaches, corn and tomatoes are special! I especially have a thing for summer tomatoes, and I’m hoping you do too, since there are lots of tomato recipes in the pipeline. You know that once you’ve had a truly vine-ripened, sun-kissed tomato, you can never go back to those hard, tasteless orbs from the supermarket that have nothing to do with a real summer tomato. I remember as child going into my father’s garden in the summer with a salt shaker to eat tomatoes with salt right off the vine. Heaven.
Tomatoes make this girl’s heart grow fonder when they are paired with basil. This classic combination is a favorite of mine and one I use in so many different dishes. Just this past week, I posted recipes for pasta with cherry tomato sauce, as well as a frittata with garden vegetables, including tomato and basil. In last summer’s classes, I taught pasta alla checca, which is a raw tomato and basil sauce. Of course, the traditional salad on every Italian menu is a Caprese, which is nothing more than alternating slices of good quality tomato and mozzarella cheese with basil, olive oil and salt. Several years ago I was in Italy with my family visiting a friend of my father’s on the Amalfi Coast. We had all eaten a large lunch that day and weren’t really hungry for a full dinner, so our hosts pulled tomatoes and basil from the garden, freshly made local mozzarella from the fridge, local olive oil and olives, and some bread from a bakery down the road. I know it may not sound like much, but every ingredient was the best I had ever had, and to this day I consider that meal one of my favorites ever.
One of my go-to side dishes in the summer is simply grilled or roasted eggplant slices. Occasionally I’ll add some mint and feta, but a few years ago I taught this recipe, which is essentially eggplant-meets-Caprese. Eggplant is such a sponge and loves all that juicy-tomato-and-olive-oil-goodness. I don’t eat very much dairy, so instead of big slices of cheese, I have added a few cubes mixed in with the tomato and basil mixture. In this photograph I used fresh buffalo mozzarella, which is a little milkier and lighter tasting, but you can use whatever cheese you’ve got, including burrata, feta or goat cheese — or none at all! I usually try to teach my girls to eat like civilized ladies, but I have found myself many a time eating this with my hands as an eggplant taco. Like the other night when we couldn’t find the flatware. It’s probably still in the living room…
- 2 medium eggplant, unpeeled, sliced crosswise into ¾-inch slices
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil + more for brushing eggplant
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, julienned
- 4 ounces (or more if you like) fresh mozzarella, cubed
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the eggplant slices on the paper and brush them generously on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, then roast for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
- Mix together the tomato, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the basil. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
- To serve, arrange the cooked eggplant slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving platter. Scatter the mozzarella chunks on top and spoon over the salsa. Remove the garlic cloves.
Hello! I noticed that you did not peel the eggplant… is the peel eatable? It looks awesome!!!
Totally! I always leave the peel on. It’s completely edible.
Pamela, We loved this tonight!! Such a fun combo. Summer vibes! Thanks, Jenny
Made this last night for dinner with my inlaws and it was a huge success. Instead of cooking the eggplant in the oven, I grilled them. So delicious!!!
Lucky in-laws! Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth~
Thank you so much for your inspiring recipes. I made this last night and got raves, one guest called it heavenly salad. I had some goat cheese I needed to use and it was yummy too. Next up fatoush.
Our markets in Oklahoma are brimming with tomatoes. Thanks!!
My pleasure, Linda! I really can’t get enough of tomatoes right now. Glad you enjoyed this!
OMG is this recipe a winner! My kids had the best time brushing the eggplant with olive oil and it was the perfect use for my abundance of heirloom tomatoes. This will be a staple in my house. Home run. Thank you!!!
Thank YOU for sharing your experience! Love it when you guys get the kids to help!
I made this last night and it was great. I was looking for a recipe which I could use the heirloom tomatoes my husband grew and this was perfect as I wanted to eat the tomatoes raw. We just got back from Portugal, so I use olive oil and garlic that I just brought back. Surprisingly I had left overs. I scrambled the left overs up with some egg whites in the morning and it was really nice. Thanks Pamela.
You had me at homegrown heirloom tomatoes! But olive oil and garlic from Portugal? Divine! Absolutely love the idea of using the leftovers in an omelet — genius!
Fantastic recipe! Here’s a Sicilian variation on the eggplant theme. Prepare a simple marinara sauce with fresh or canned tomatoes (no need for long cooking). Grill or roast the eggplant slices, cut into strips and place in a bowl. Chop or julienne the basil and place in another bowl. Cook some whole grain pasta (shells are great for this). Pour the marinara sauce over the pasta and serve. Your guests can add their own eggplant and basil to taste, mixing with the pasta. Add grated pecorino-romano or parmigiano cheese if desired.
Love your suggestion, Mia! There’s an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood that has a similar dish on the menu and they add smoked mozzarella. Delish!
What can i do To prevent the bíter taste of the eggplant.
The best way to do that is to sprinkle kosher salt on the eggplant slices and allow them to sit for 30 minutes. The salt draws bitterness out. Rinse them off, then pat dry before brushing them with oil. I am much to lazy to do this, but most of the time I’m lucky and don’t get bitter eggplants.
This looks delicious. Will try it soon.
Great, let me know how it turns out!
Hi pamela, will be trying this recipe tonight, love your site and your fantastic recipes, so healthy! Matt and I are leaving for Greece and London next Sunday, can’t wait to have the great fruit and vegetables of Greece. Have a great summer, love to all.
Safe travels, Libby! I am so envious — you know how much I adore Greece, especially all the beautiful produce! xo
just made this…oh my…words can no describe. Slight variation, cut the eggplant into pices after roasting and laid the whole thing over a bed of spinach with a little balsamic. YUM!!!
That’s awesome! Sounds like a delicious creation!
I’m drooling!! Can’t wait to have it!!
Let me know if you make it, Katherine!
This looks really good! AND easy!
You’re absolutely right!