- 2 small eggplants, 2 pounds total weight
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage or 1 Teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 – 8 ounce ball of fresh mozzarella
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, 8 ounces
Homemade Basil Pesto:
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cups packed basil leaves, 3 1/2 ounces
- Preheat a grill over high heat for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches 450ºF.
- While the grill heats, cut the ends off the eggplants, and slice them into 1/2″ slices. Mix together the olive oil, garlic, chopped herbs, and sea salt. Lightly brush both sides of the eggplant with the garlic herb olive oil.
- Slice the mozzarella into 1/4″ rounds, and then cut each slice in half. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half or quarters if they’re large, before setting them aside.
- Place the eggplant on the grill and immediately lower the heat to medium high, maintaining a temperature of around 400ºF. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side, or until the eggplant slices are completely tender with nicely browned grill marks.
- When the eggplant is tender, remove it from the grill and layer it together with the sliced mozzarella in a 9″ cast iron pan. Place the pan back on the grill and grill for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is molten and browning on the edges.
- While the eggplant is finishing on the grill, make the pesto by placing all the pesto ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Start with 1/4 cup olive oil and add a bit more if needed while blending. Blend starting on low, and using the tamper keep lightly pressing the basil downwards, increasing the speed as you go. Keep blending until a chunky pesto forms. Remove the pesto from the blender, and place half of it into a sealed container with the least amount of air space possible. This recipe makes 2 cups, so I use 1 cup for the eggplant, and place the remaining 1 cup into a 1 cup/8 ounce mason jar with a lid. A brown layer will form on the remaining pesto which is due to oxidization, just scrape it off and use the bright green pesto underneath within 2-3 days.
- When the eggplant and cheese have finished cooking, serve it immediately with the halved cherry tomatoes and the fresh pesto.