Foodie: Roasted Eggplant with Mozzarella, Basil and Balsamic Reduction

Come fall, nothing could be more perfect for the lazy cook than roasted vegetables. While I consider myself an equal opportunity roaster, eggplant seems to be ruling my oven these days. It's hard to argue with that crisp, purple skin and tender flesh, so I don't. I concede time and time again. Here's my latest and greatest iteration.

Simply slice a couple eggplants into thick rounds, season with salt and pepper and drizzle the eggplant with a few generous glugs of olive oil. Place it in the oven, check it once and you're done. Or are you? To give this dish a little extra shine, I layer the eggplant in a bowl with fresh mozzarella and basil leaves before drizzling it with Balsamic syrup. It sounds fancy (and it is), but I assure you there's nothing to it. Simply combine vinegar and a little sugar in a pot, bring to boil and lower the heat. The mixture will quickly thicken into a rich, sweet syrup and then you're done. Drizzle the syrup on top and you've got yourself a simple, elegant dish. You can thank your oven later.

Roasted Eggplant with Basil, Mozzarella and Balsamic Reduction
2 eggplants, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 small round of fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
Pinch of red chile flakes
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

For the Eggplant:
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and toss the eggplant with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant for 20 minutes until it is brown and slightly shriveled. Remove from the oven and let cool. Place a round of eggplant in the bowl and top with a round of mozzarella followed by a basil leaf. Repeat until all of the eggplant have been arranged. Drizzle with a couple teaspoons of the Balsamic syrup and finish with a pinch of chile flakes, kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.

For the Balsamic Syrup:
Bring the Balsamic vinegar and two teaspoons of sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and reduce until the vinegar thickens. Remove from the heat and briefly cool. Drizzle the syrup over the eggplant, mozzarella and basil.

By: Rachel Tucker | Image: Rachel Tucker

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