We’ve spent a lot of time writing about what to do with this season’s bumper crop of zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. We’ve offered a recipe for fresh zucchini salad and roasted ratatouille and even recipes for what to do with all the ratatouille. But here’s one of the most beautiful recipes incorporating summer produce I know.
I learned it from my friend Terrie Brown. Every summer she and I would spend a week at her family’s farm in Virginia. We’d arrive and never know who else from the family would be there, but it was mostly women.
We love our men, but now and again it’s fun when it’s just women. With no men around to influence the agenda, we spent our days doing as we pleased. We’d walk for miles in the morning, spend hours shopping, sip late-afternoon tea, get massages and soak in the local salt baths.
And since it was just us women, there was no need for big meals. Dinner was light, and when we were down there we would always make Terrie’s signature dish—Vegetable Napoleons with Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella
She would hand me a pan full of eggplant and zucchini and I’d fire up the grill. Back in the kitchen Terrie would slice tomatoes and mozzarella and pluck fresh basil leaves.
Once the zucchini and eggplant were grilled (occasionally a portabello mushroom would stand in for the zucchini), Terrie would build vegetable towers. They were beautiful, and all that we women felt like eating on a late summer Virginia night.
Turns out, our men like them too. I’ve served these napoleons to David—Sharon’s Tony too. They like them all right. In fact, they like them so much they wanted two of them. I was kind. I didn’t tell them they were eating women food.
Happy Summer Friday!
Zucchini-Eggplant Napoleons with Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella
1 medium eggplant, cut into 12 rounds
2 medium-large zucchini, sliced medium thick on the diagonal
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large tomato, cut into 6 slices and lightly salted
1 ball fresh mozzarella (8 ounces) cut into 6 slices (you will only need about 6 ounces)
Small handful basil leaves
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Heat a gas grill igniting all burners on high for at least 10 minutes or build a hot charcoal fire. Clean grate with a wire brush and then lubricate with an oil-soaked rag. Toss eggplant and zucchini slices with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Place eggplant and zucchini on hot grate and grill, covered until spotty brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn vegetables and continue to grill, covered, until vegetables are spotty brown on remaining side, 4 to 5 minutes longer.
As soon as vegetables come off the grill, assemble napoleons in the following order: 1 slice eggplant, 2 to 3 slices of zucchini, 1 slice mozzarella, a few basil leaves, a tomato slice, another eggplant slice and a few more zucchini slices. Lightly drizzle napoleons with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Serve.