This marinated eggplant, tomato and smoked mozzarella salad makes an easy and delicious side or lunch. Great flavors, hearty but fresh-tasting and perfect for summer.
We have been trying something new in our little vegetable patch this year: eggplant (aubergine). I was a little nervous about how it would get on after we grew zucchini/courgette a few years ago. After a brief good start, the plants seemed to get some kind of bug and the rest of them were rotten before they got beyond a stump. I’m hesitant to speak too soon but the eggplants this year seem to be doing well. We’ll see when we harvest some soon how they taste and hopefully more will keep coming OK. They make up for the broccoli which have suffered with the heat we have had and bolted and flowered rather than producing nice heads of broccoli to eat. There are signs we might get some later crop but I’m not overly hopeful it will be much.
Successful or not, growing a few things ourselves is definitely great for the kids and along with our veggie box helps them eat a decent range and me get a bit more creative in using vegetables. This marinated eggplant, tomato and smoked mozzarella salad came about partly due to the content of a recent box and makes a delicious, easy lunch or side.
We love moussaka as a way to use eggplant but it’s been so warm recently, there’s been no chance of me making anything with the oven any time soon. Plus when we got a beautiful-looking paler-skinned eggplant in a recent vegetable box, I knew I wanted to make it the star of a dish as well. Marinated eggplant is something I had been wanting to try for a little while and when I saw some smoked mozzarella in the supermarket, I knew they were destined to go together. They are both mild but flavorful, and given eggplant works well in some dips where it takes on a smokey flavor itself, I was pretty sure it would pair well with a smoked flavor too. The heirloom tomatoes in our box kind of begged to be added as well.
How it’s made
This marinated eggplant, tomato and smoked mozzarella salad is easy to make as well, with only a few ingredients and limited work needed. You simply slice and grill the eggplant then dice it up and toss in a simple marinade/dressing. Leave it overnight then add the diced tomato and smoked mozzarella. That’s it. Many recipes for marinated eggplant have you marinate it before cooking but I don’t think there’s much need and I think it soaks up less oil if you don’t which, for me, is a good thing. You can brush them with oil before grilling to help stop them sticking and brown slightly more if you like, but I wouldn’t overdo it.
The marinated eggplant has a certain meatiness that contrasts nicely with the juicy tomatoes. Smoked mozzarella is firmer than regular mozzarella, but still has a lovely creaminess and, as you can imagine, a nice smoked flavor that works really well with the rest of the flavors. I would say you do kind of have to like garlic for this recipe as it is relatively distinct – if you are unsure then reduce the quantity or miss it out, though I do think it would be a shame to not have it. It’s not so much as it is, it’s more you are aware of the garlic if you get a chunk. You could always use roasted garlic which will be milder, if you can remember to roast some ahead of time, or dried.
Marinated eggplant is kind of like an antipasti and so this salad has a bit of that style to it, being quite definitely Italian-style flavors. It is relatively filling but light at the same time and robust enough to travel, whether that’s for a picnic, potluck or lunch box. Wherever you eat it, this marinated eggplant, tomato and smoked mozzarella salad is easy to make and easy to enjoy. It’s fresh and flavorful, and pretty healthy to boot. I’m looking forward to some homegrown eggplant to make it again.
An easy antipasti-style salad perfect for summer.
- 1 eggplant large (or 2 medium-small)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic large, crushed
- 4 basil leaves , finely chopped
- 1 tomato large (or 2 medium)
- 4 oz smoked mozzarella 110g (1/2 a regular ball)
Slice the eggplant into relatively thick slices. Salt the slices lightly and leave it to stand around 5-10 mins then wash off or brush off the salt and pat dry.
If you like, lightly brush the slices with oil or leave as they are and grill a few minutes (or use a grill pan) until you can feel the slices are soft and there are a few grill marks. Remove the slices and allow to cool slightly.
While the eggplant is cooling, mix the oil, crushed garlic and chopped basil. Once the eggplant is cool enough to touch, dice it then toss the eggplant in the oil mixture. Store overnight in the fridge to marinade.
When ready to use, dice the tomatoes in relatively large pieces. Cut the mozzarella into slices then cut the slices in half or quarters. Mix both in with the eggplant and serve (or box it up to take with you - it will keep well a good few hours if kept chilled).
Try these other salads perfect for summer:
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