Eggplant & Tomato Caprese Salad

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to add vegetables to my cooking routine is to incorporate them into dishes I already love. Eggplant is the perfect example. I don’t buy eggplant often, and when I do, it’s usually to throw on the grill with other summer vegetables. It’s good, it’s fine, but let’s face it, unless the recipe involves tomato sauce, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, people don’t usually rave about eggplant.

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BUT, sneak eggplant into a Caprese salad, and you will never look at it the same way again. There’s something about the contrast of the charred eggplant, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil that heightens the flavor of each ingredient, so you really taste each one. Rather than getting lost under a bunch of other grilled veggies, eggplant is the star here. And fished with a generous drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt, it’s the kind of eggplant recipe you might actually end up raving about.

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A few notes… Because this recipe so simple, the key is starting with the best ingredients you can find: firm-ripe summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar for that thick drizzle. For this recipe, I used medium-size tomatoes, but larger beefsteak tomatoes will also work. Since eggplants are a different thickness throughout, the diameter of the tomatoes and the eggplant slices won’t be exactly even. I think it’s kind of fun (and easier) that way, but you can do your best to arrange the slices of tomato and eggplant by size for a neater presentation.

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Eggplant & Tomato Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick
  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced in ½-inch thick rounds
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse sea salt

Directions

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or set a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the eggplant slices generously with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until charred on the outside and soft on the inside. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

On a large rectangular platter, layer the tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant and basil in diagonal rows. Drizzle generously with vinegar and olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Serve at room temperature.


Grilled Zucchini with Herb Yogurt

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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Up this week is an easy grilled zucchini recipe that’s a great side for summer cookouts. If you already have the grill going, you might as well make the most it, right? While I love zucchini, I have a few friends who don’t, and I totally see why. When over-cooked, it  becomes soggy, watery and bland. For this Grilled Zucchini with Herb Yogurt, I cut the zucchini into thick planks and grill them just enough to get a nice char on both sides, while the center remains firm. I almost called these “Zucchini Steaks,” but I just couldn’t do it.

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My Herb Yogurt is a simplified version of Greek tzatziki with yogurt, fresh dill, red onion and lemon juice. It’s bright, tangy and creamy and is the perfect complement to charred zucchini hot off the grill. I like to drizzle the yogurt over the zucchini just before serving it, but you can also pass the bowl of yogurt around the table so everyone can help themselves. This is an excellent sauce to have in your back pocket- it transforms simple grilled chicken or salmon and is a great dip for veggies, too.

Happy Grilling this weekend! If you have any favorite summer vegetable recipes, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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Grilled Zucchini with Herb Yogurt


Ingredients

  • 1 (7-oz) container thick-style Greek yogurt, such as Fage
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds medium zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, dill, onions, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir until smooth, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals (or set a gas grill to medium-high heat.)

Trim the zucchini and slice them lengthwise into ½-inch thick planks. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini planks with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until the zucchini is charred but still firm. Remove to a platter and drizzle with the herb yogurt. Serve the zucchini hot or warm with extra yogurt on the side.