I didn’t really spend much time at my third-floor apartment this summer. And with Doug’s grill out of commission, I’d been dying to put my grilling skills to good use. Just as I started to think my grilling know-how was getting rusty, I landed at my parents’ house in Kentucky and saw a gleaming new grill staring back at me.
Why had my parents gotten a new grill, you ask? No, it wasn’t because the old one had gotten rusty. Or because my dad felt the need to upgrade to the newest model. Nope, the reason we got a new grill is:
My mom blew up the old one!
Mom, being the great woman that she is, offered to make my friend Rae and I dinner a few months back. She put her beautifully butterflied chicken on the grill, set a brick on it, and closed the lid—completely forgetting to the the dials down from smoking hot to medium low. The long-term smoldering heat of the 500-degree grill blackened the chicken and melted the grill grates, ruining the grill altogether.
Of course, Mom being Mom, she still served us the chicken, suggesting that we just remove the skin before eating. You gotta love her 🙂
Well, this isn’t a post about burnt chicken, but it is a post about the brand-spanking new grill that came out of that culinary meltdown. I went nuts cooking everything I possibly could on during my weekend home a few weeks ago: lemon-scented salmon with basil-walnut pesto; peppers, onions and sausages for Italian dogs; corn on the cob; and last, but not least, these Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella stacks.
Every component of these yummy stacks is done on the grill, and then they’re assembled grill-side for easy entertaining.
They’re almost like a healthified version of Eggplant Parmesan, complete with layers of sweet tomato, gooey mozzarella, rich meaty eggplant, and fresh basil. All are ingredients at their peak at summer’s end. and grilling them only brings out their smoky sweet flavor profiles. A touch of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil finish the dish, giving it a hint of acid and a smooth sauce. Folks, it’s time to get grilling before summer ends!
Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stacks
This dish is cooked completely on the grill and can then be assembled grill side.
1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch to ½-inch thick rounds
2 large tomatoes, sliced thick
1 log of presliced fresh mozzarella
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ c. fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Salt eggplant slices and place in a colander. Let drain for 30 minutes. Rinse off excess salt and pat the slices dry. Season eggplant with pepper and oregano.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Season the tomato slices with salt, pepper, and oregano. Grill eggplant and tomato slices until they soften and grill marks appear. The tomatoes will cook faster then the eggplant. When the tomatoes are ready, move them to the top rack of your grill or a warm plate.
Assemble stacks: Top 4 grilled tomato slices with one Mozzarella slice each so that the mozzarella begins to melt. When the eggplant slices are ready, move them to a plate or tray. Top each of 4 eggplant slices with one of the tomato and mozzarella stacks, with the mozzarella facing up. Put one or two basil leaves on top of each stack. Then put another slice of grilled eggplant on each of the 4 stacks, followed by a grilled tomato slice and another piece of mozzarella. Top each of the stacks with another basil leaf or two. Carefully move the stacks to individual plates if you haven’t already. Drizzle each eggplant, tomato and mozzarella stack with some extra virgin olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.