With the tomatoes in my patio #garden coming into bloom right now and my planter of basil bursting with new leaves, I am inspired to make a tomato basil dish. It’s perfect timing with this month Recipe Redux theme:

Get Your Fruits and Veggies In Shape 

With produce galore, now’s a great time to enjoy lots of fruits and vegetables. Show us how you’re serving the bounty of gardens and orchards in shapes like ribbons, noodles, cut-outs, or other creative cuts.

tomatobasil_0600

With the heat rising in Chicago (today’s it’s going to be in the upper-90s — apparently they are calling it a “heat dome“), it’s the right day to fire up the grill <grin>.  I am going to simply grill some eggplant rounds brushed with a scant amount of grape seed oil mixed with powdered turmeric and smoked paprika for a robust flavor and an anti-inflammatory kick!  I love eggplant as it offers a great bed for all sorts of toppings, such as melted cheese or grilled onions, tapenade or dolloped with yogurt or tzatziki.

Grilled Eggplant

To create fun shapes, I am going to make tomato flowers.  They are super simple with a sharp knife (it’s hard with a dull knife, plus it can slip more easily off the tomato).  Hold your tomato and slice into the skin and rotate the tomato around as you trim a thin layer of skin off in one continuous piece. Once you’ve gone around the whole tomato just wrap the skin into a round formation to make a flower.  It’s that easy.  It makes an impressive garnish for any dish, too. . .

tomato flowers

Make a bunch of tomato flowers at one time to prep for topping or garnishing a dish.  Once the eggplant is grilled on both sides, top with cheese to melt while still on the grill.  Once cheese is melted, remove from grill and top with basil, tomato flowers and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (or you can just add vinegar to the grape seed oil and spice mixture that you used for grilling.)

Eggplant Tower Assembly

Smokey Grilled Eggplant, Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Flower Towers 

Eggplant Boom

Makes 6 towers 

Ingredients

1 eggplant, sliced (medium thick)

1/4 cup grape seed oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 small fresh basil leaves (or 6 large leaves)

6 slices fresh whole milk mozzarella

6 medium garden tomatoes

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions 

Turn on the grill to medium heat.  Mix together oil and spices in a small bowl. Brush eggplant slices one one side with oil spice mixture and a pinch of salt.  Lay oiled side on the grill and then brush top side and pinch with salt.  Allow eggplant to heat and flip eggplant when grill marks appear in about 3 – 5 minutes.

Prepare your tomato flowers (per the description above). Set aside.

Once both sides are grilled, top each with a slice of cheese.  Cover and allow cheese to melt for 1 – 2 minutes.  With a spatula, remove eggplant from the grill.  Immediately top each with basil and a tomato flower.  Drizzle with vinegar and oil.  Serve while warm.

Enjoy eating simply,

-Vicki

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