Aubergine Slices Layered with Ricotta, Tomato Sauce and Basil

Perfect on the barbeque or roasted in the oven, grilled eggplant rounds stacked with fresh cheese, herbs and sauce is a recipe worthy of the centre spot on any dinner plate.

Grilled Eggplant Towers are deceptively simple, but have a presentation beautiful enough for company. Preparation is versatile; throw onto the barbeque when the weather is nice or roast in the oven when it’s not. This vegetarian dish can take the place of meat as the main attraction.

For a low-carbohydrate tower, use plain (no sugar added) tomato sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Eggplant Towers with additional roasted vegetables, including the optional bell peppers and mushrooms, but also asparagus, zucchini, carrots or other seasonal vegetables. Other complementary side dishes include mashed root vegetables, couscous, a green salad or mixed mashed sweet potatoes and white potatoes.

Grilled Eggplant Towers Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes grilling; 10 minutes plating

Ingredients:

  • 1 large, firm and fresh purple eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1 portobello mushroom cap, optional
  • ½ red or yellow bell pepper, optional (for garnish)
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1½ cups homemade or store-bought tomato-basil pasta sauce
  • 1-1½ cups ricotta cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the barbecue to medium-high heat or the oven to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
  2. Lay the eggplant horizontally on a cutting board. Do not peel. Slice the eggplant into ½-inch (1 cm) rounds, starting at the bottom and creating cross-sectional pieces.
  3. Repeat until the eggplant is entirely sliced.
  4. If using portobello mushrooms, slice clean mushrooms into thin slices either horizontally or vertically.
  5. If using bell peppers, chop or cut into thumb-sized pieces.
  6. Brush or drizzle all vegetables with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly cracked salt and pepper.
  7. Grill or oven-roast vegetables about 20 minutes, turning once, until skin is only slightly blackened and eggplant is soft in the middle.
  8. Remove vegetables from grill or oven and wait until they are cool enough to handle.

To Assemble Plates:

  1. Place one of the larger slices of eggplant on a plate, slightly off-centre to leave room for side dishes, if plating side dishes on the same plate.
  2. If using mushroom, place several thin strips on top of the eggplant.
  3. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce on top of the eggplant and mushrooms.
  4. Using a clean spoon or a small spatula, gently spread or dollop 2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese over the sauce.
  5. Place another, smaller slice of eggplant on top of the cheese and repeat layers twice more, ending with tomato sauce and cheese.
  6. Garnish with roasted bell peppers and fresh basil, if desired. Drizzle additional tomato sauce around the plate for extra sensory appeal.
  7. Repeat with 3 other servings.
  8. Serve immediately.