The taste of summer is in this tower, and ohhh does summer taste good! Tomatoes are ripe for picking, basil is fresh and fragrant and the eggplants are plump and purple – yep they’re all ready for towers! These work great as a side for any meat or fish dinner or build a slightly taller tower and serve it as the main attraction with a salad. Did I mention it’s super simple to make?
After cutting off the top and bottom of the eggplant slice the eggplant into 1/4″ thick slices (it helps grilling to cut them as evenly as possible). Over the sink sprinkle salt on each slice, both sides, and let the eggplant slices sit in a colander in the sink for 1/2 hour to 1 hour. Then rinse each slice and place on a paper towel to dry. Once the slices are dry place them in a grill rack, if you have one, or on a piece of tinfoil with holes poked in it. (City dollopers: the eggplant can be baked in the oven too.) Either way lightly coat the slices with olive oil and place on the grill. Turn a few times while it’s cooking to make sure both sides cook evenly. Once it’s cooked through (15 – 20 minutes depending on the grill) remove from the grill.
building the towers
While the eggplant is having its salt bath slice up the tomatoes (1/4 ” thick) and fresh mozzarella (slightly thinner slices), julienne the basil and set aside. If you don’t feel like fresh mozzarella or prefer goat cheese or feta these cheeses work very well too.
Once the eggplant is off the grill pick out the largest rings for the number of servings you’re making. Set these on a serving platter and sprinkle 2-3 strips of basil on top. Place a slice of tomato slightly smaller than the eggplant slice on top of this first layer and again sprinkle with basil. Follow this layer with a cheese layer and basil and then repeat starting with the eggplant layer selecting slightly smaller slices as you make your tower. Top off the final cheese later with a small slice of tomato and your tower (it’s more like a tower – pyramid hybrid) is ready to be drizzled. If you don’t have perfect slices or towers that’s ok, leaning towers (I couldn’t resist) are just as tasty.
Drizzling the towers with a little balsamic reduction adds nice flavor. Pour the balsamic vinegar and honey into a small pan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has become thicker and reduced in volume by half. This can be made while the eggplant is sitting too and reheated when you’re ready to serve.
Drizzle a little on each and enjoy!
- Eggplant – 1 medium
- Tomatoes - 2 medium
- Basil - 6 - 8 leaves
- Fresh mozzarella - 8 slices
- Balsamic vinegar - ½ cup
- Honey - 1 tablespoon
- Olive oil (for coating the eggplant for grilling)
- Salt (for salting the eggplant)
- Prepare the eggplant:
- Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant
- Slice eggplant into ¼" slices (circles)
- Sprinkle salt on each slice of eggplant (both sides) and let sit in a colander for ½ hour to 1 hour
- Rinse each eggplant slice and dry on a paper towel
- Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil
- Place eggplant slices in grill rack or on foil poked with holes (if not using a grill rack)
- Grill the eggplant turning a few times until it is tender in the middle and completely cooked (15 - 20 minutes)
- Balsamic reduction:
- Pour balsamic vinegar and honey into a small pan
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until vinegar mixture becomes thicker and volume reduces by about half (about 10 minutes)
- Slice the tomatoes
- Slice the fresh mozzarella (or whatever cheese you are using)
- Wash the basil leaves and julienne
- Once the eggplant has completely cooked remove from grill
- Put a large slice of eggplant on a platter for each tower (serving) and top with 2-3 strips of basil
- Place a slice of tomato on top of each eggplant slice and sprinkle with a few more strips of basil
- Put a slice of cheese on top of the tomato slices and again top with a few strips of basil
- Repeat steps starting with the eggplant using slightly smaller size pieces for each layer so a pyramid shape forms
- After the second slice of cheese on each tower top with a small piece of tomato
- Drizzle the balsamic reduction on top of the towers