Along with garden-fresh tomatoes, grilled summer vegetables make an exceptional partner for buffalo mozzarella and basil. Eggplant and peppers are used here, but zucchini or summer squash would work as well. This colorful stack also makes an elegant starter.
Summer Vegetable Stacks
4 small eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into quarters
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
8 large heirloom tomato slices
2–3 balls fresh mozzarella cheese, preferably buffalo’s milk, cut into 8 slices
Handful of torn fresh basil leaves
Place the eggplant slices and bell pepper quarters in a bowl and add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Turn several times, then let stand for 30–60 minutes, turning once or twice. Meanwhile, preheat a grill to medium-high and oil the grill rack.
Arrange the eggplant slices and bell peppers directly on the grill rack or in a single layer in a grilling basket. Cook until the eggplants and the peppers are lightly charred, 6–7 minutes for the eggplants and about 4 minutes for the peppers. Turn and cook until the second sides are browned and charred. The timing will be about the same. Transfer the eggplant slices to a platter. Seal the peppers in a resealable plastic bag and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel away the charred skin with your fingertips.
To assemble each stack, place a tomato slice on each plate, then stack the remaining ingredients on top in the following order: cheese, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, cheese, eggplant, bell pepper, and eggplant, seasoning the layers with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the basil leaves. Serve at once.
Variation: Feta, burrata, or grilled halloumi will work nicely here.