This is a simple yet impressive dish that can be prepared well in advance. In fact it's better if it sits in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving. The flavors exemplify the end of summer when tomatoes, eggplant, and basil are plentiful. I generally make this in an 8" x 4" ramekin/ souffle mold with straight sides but it would also be fine in a loaf pan or a springform pan. You can substitute flavors based on what you have in your garden and what you prefer. Roasted peppers or grilled zucchini would both be nice additions. These are some of my favorite late summer flavors.
Grilled Eggplant, Tomato & Mozzarella Timbale:
Yields 6 servings
1 large globe eggplant, sliced into 3/8" rounds (about 12 slices total)
5 medium tomatoes (early girl or similar), sliced into 3/8" rounds (about 20 slices total)
3 large balls fresh mozzarella (ovolene size)
20 basil leaves
2 TB black olive tapenade
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fennel pollen (optional)
1) Line your mold completely with plastic wrap. Make sure the bottom is entirely covered and the sides are lined, all the way to the top. Allow enough overhang for folding the plastic over the top of the dish.
2) Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Grill until tender, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.
3) When you're ready to assemble, place a layer of the grilled eggplant on the bottom. Arrange decoratively since when the dish is turned out, this will be the top. Add a layer of tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fennel pollen. Place a layer of mozzarella on top of the tomatoes, followed by a layer of basil leaves. Spread 1 TB of the olive tapenade over the basil. Repeat the layers, starting with tomatoes and ending with eggplant which will be the top layer in your mold.
4) Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the dish and press down firmly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5) When ready to serve, fold back the top plastic wrap and place your serving plate face down on the top of the mold. Invert the mold onto a serving plate. Pull away the mold and peel off the plastic wrap. Slice into wedges (if using a round mold) or into slices (if using a rectangular mold). Serve chilled.