Wheatless Wednesday – Tomato & Eggplant Stacks with Basil Vinaigrette

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Basil + Tomatoes = Love.  If asparagus is the harbinger of spring, tomatoes are the essence of summer.  I reaped the first ripe tomatoes from my garden yesterday, still warm from the sun.  What a treasured bounty! It was so warm in March in California that I decided to plant tomato seedlings then which is very risky but I got lucky, or rather temperatures never dropped too low and I never even had to cover my tender plants at night.  So now I am enjoying the largesse.  I had planned something entirely different using lentils and eggplant for dinner tonight but could not resist the pull of my fresh tomatoes so I ended up making Tomato and Eggplant Stacks layered with fresh mozzarella and avocado drizzled with a fresh Basil Vinaigrette.  Bliss!

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I did have a little mishap in the garden, however. I was trying to tuck a heavily laden branch behind a support and the stem snapped.  It didn’t break all the way so I decided to ‘bandage’ it up with a bit of painter’s tape and hope for the best.

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Do you see the little blue ‘bandage’?  If my doctoring doesn’t work, I will be ripening about a dozen green tomatoes on my windowsill.  Crossing my fingers…

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What can I tell you about tomatoes except that they are the ultimate in summer dining? Did you know that Tomatoes were a wonderful gift from the Mayans?  Tomatoes are native to the Central America and were cultivated by the Aztecs centuries before the Spanish explorers introduced them to rest of the world. Lucky for us!  Besides being delicious, tomatoes are nutrient dense, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.  They are an especially good source of Vitamin C and the phytonutrient, Lycopene, which is a beneficial antioxidant.  So slice away!  Put them on sandwiches, in salads or add them to your morning toast with a slice of avocado and a sprinkle of fresh basil.  Yum!

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TIPS:  To easily remove the avocado pit, strike down on the pit with a sharp knife and twist until it come out.  You can roast the eggplant ahead of time, even the day before, and store in the refrigerator.  Just bring to room temperature before assembling.  For best results, use eggplant and tomatoes that are a similar size.

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For a more colorful arrangement, use a variety of tomatoes.  If you aren’t into stacking, just throw everything together in a large bowl and drizzle with basil vinaigrette.

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TOMATO & EGGPLANT STACKS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

3-4 fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 small globe eggplant
1 avocado, ripe but firm
6 oz fresh mozzarella, optional

BASIL VINAIGRETTE

1 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 small shallot or 2-3 scallions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey or agave
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

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  • Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds.

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  • Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and roast in the oven at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes,  or until lightly browned, turning halfway through,.  Or grill them on both sides. Let cool.

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  • Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

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  • Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/3 inch rounds. Cut avocado in half crosswise, remove pit (see tips) and peel.  Slice into 1/3 inch rounds.  (Make slices thicker or thinner to your liking)

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  • Build stacks by placing one tomato slice as the base, then eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, avocado then tomato.

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  • Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with fresh basil.  I also had some balsamic reduction left from my Antipasti Platter which I put out for extra drizzling.  Balsamic Reduction Recipe HERE.

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Tomato & Eggplant Stacks with Basil Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TOMATO & EGGPLANT STACKS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

20150602_205556

3-4 fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 small globe eggplant
1 avocado, ripe but firm
6 oz fresh mozzarella, optional

BASIL VINAIGRETTE

1 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 small shallot or 2-3 scallions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey or agave
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds.
  • Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and roast in the oven at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes,  or until lightly browned, turning halfway through,.  Or grill them on both sides. Let coo.
  • Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Set aside.
  • Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/3 inch rounds.
  • Cut avocado in half crosswise, remove pit (see tips) and peel.  Slice into 1/3 inch rounds.
  • Build stacks by placing one tomato slice as the base, then eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, avocado then tomato
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with fresh basil.

 

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