By jan d’atri
It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The island of Capri stands out as a breathtaking Italian jewel near the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. Known for the famous Blue Grotto, Capri is also responsible for one of America’s favorite dishes, the insalata Caprese, or Caprese salad. Three ingredients plus a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar exempliy quintessential Italian cuisine: simple, fresh and memorable. But this recipe adds a delightful twist to the traditional tomato, mozzarella and basil. Sliced, grilled eggplant is added, and the entire stack sits on a square of soft lavosh bread that has been grilled and seasoned for the perfect base.
I used a panini press to toast the sheets of lavosh bread and to give the eggplant beautiful grill marks, but you can also use a grill plate or skillet. This dish is perfect for a light lunch or dinner and of course as a beautiful appetizer. Molto delicioso!
Grilled Eggplant Caprese
Ingredients: (Makes about 6 stacks)
– 2 large eggplants, unpeeled,
cut into 1/2-inch rounds
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 2-3 sheets soft lavosh bread (Trader Joe’s)
– 1 log (1 lb.) Mozzarella cheese log, cut into 1/2-inch slices
– 4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
– Approx. 15-20 fresh basil leaves
– Olive oil and balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction for drizzling
Cut eggplants into 1/2-inch slices. Do not peel.
In a medium large pot, add enough water to cover eggplant slices. Add salt and bring water to boil. Place eggplant into boiling water and cook for about 3-4 minutes until softened but still firm. Transfer to plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and garlic. Lightly brush oil mixture over both sides of eggplant slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper over slices.
Brush oil mixture over lavosh sheets. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Slice desired sheets into six squares.
Heat panini press, grill pan or skillet. Arrange the eggplant slices and cook until golden brown on both sides. Gently lift out of pan and transfer the slices to a plate to let cool.
In the same panini press, grill pan or skillet, heat lavosh squares until crisp and golden brown. Set aside.
Assemble the stack. On a plate, place one piece of Lavosh on the bottom, then top with slices of grilled eggplant, mozzarella and tomato. Place several basil leaves in between mozzarella and tomato slices. Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper over stack. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction. Repeat steps for the rest of the stacks. Add a few more leaves of basil for garnish. Serve immediately and eat with knife and fork.
Jan’s note: When buying tomatoes, do not refrigerate as they will become watery and lose flavor.