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Easy Hot or Cold Grilled Eggplant Appetizer

This grilled eggplant appetizer is tender, perfectly grilled and layered with a tomato slice, fresh mozzarella and basil then finished with a drizzle of olive oil! It’s a flavor packed summer dish that’s quick and easy! 

During the summer when my vegetable garden is brimming with produce, there is nothing more that I like than to make fresh seasonal recipes. Whether it is any of these fresh tomato recipesgrilled zucchini roll ups or this hot or cold grilled eggplant appetizer, it’s simply the best!

Eggplant caprese on white plates.


 

If you have avoided eggplant in the past because of a spongy rubbery texture, this appetizer with Italian grilled eggplant will convert you into a fan! 

Under the hot grill the eggplant turns tender with a slight char and then it gets layered with classic Caprese salad ingredients for an unforgettable appetizer, lunch or main dish that will leave you wanting more! 

Why You’ll Love This Easy Grilled Eggplant 

  • Rain or shine it can be made: Use your outdoor BBQ or indoor grill pan on the stovetop to make this grilled eggplant dish! Either way it turns tender and delicious. 
  • Quick and easy: This simple dish can be ready in 20 minutes! Just grill the eggplant, layer it with tomato, mozzarella and herbs then serve cold or place it under the broiler to enjoy it hot.
  • Flavorful: From the charred and smoky eggplant slices to the sweet and juicy tomatoes and creamy mozzarella with fresh herbs, this appetizer is summer ready!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Eggplant: I like to use either Italian eggplant, larger sized globe eggplant or the lighter skinned heirloom eggplant varieties such as rosa bianca or graffiti eggplant. 
  • Tomatoes: You will need larger tomatoes that are ripe but still firm. 
  • Fresh mozzarella: This type of cheese is softer and adds the best flavor and texture when layered with the grilled eggplant and tomato appetizer.
  • Fresh basil: Adds the best Caprese flavor to the grilled eggplant appetizer!
  • Oregano: Dried oregano adds earthy taste to the dish.
  • Salt: For drawing out eggplant moisture as well as enhancing taste.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds rich taste when drizzled over the eggplant and tomato slices before broiling.
Ingredients for the recipe.

Do I Need To Peel The Eggplant? 

No, this is not necessary. The skin is edible and helps hold the eggplant slices together so they don’t fall apart while grilling. 

Should I Salt The Eggplant Before Grilling?

Yes! Salting the eggplant will make it more flavorful and have a better texture. Salt not only helps draw moisture out of the eggplant but helps sweat out any bitterness and assists in breaking down the spongy texture. For a velvety texture and tender grilled eggplant, don’t skip salting the eggplant! 

How To Make A Grilled Eggplant Appetizer

To start, place sliced eggplant in a medium bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let it rest then drain but do not rinse.

Eggplant in a bowl with salt.

Grill eggplant slices until soft and tender using a grill pan on the stovetop or an outdoor grill.

Grilling the eggplant on grill pan.

For hot grilled eggplant, place grilled eggplant slices on a parchment lined baking sheet, top with a slice of tomato then a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Eggplant on a baking sheet with tomatoes and cheese on top.

Sprinkle with oregano, salt, fresh chopped basil and then drizzle with olive oil. Broil for a few minutes just until mozzarella is melted and serve.

Spices sprinkled on top before and after baking.

For cold grilled eggplant, assemble as directed but do not broil.

Can I Bake The Eggplant?

Yes, you can initially roast the eggplant slices instead of grilling them. Roast the slices on a sheet pan at 400°F for about 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway or broil instead for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. 

How To Tell When Eggplant Is Cooked? 

This can be tricky! Eggplant is done when the skin around the edges starts to become wrinkled and then the middle is tender and somewhat custard-like in touch and appearance. If your eggplant feels spongy or rubbery, it’s not quite done. 

Eggplant appetizer on white plates.

Tips And Variations

  • Even slices: Slice the eggplant into even slices that are around the same thickness. This will allow the eggplant to get done around the same time.
  • Prep your grill or pan: Remember to oil your grill grates or your grill pan to prevent the eggplant from sticking.
  • Add some Parmesan: You can never go wrong with adding Parmesan or fresh garlic to any dish! My eggplant Parmesan stacks are proof of this tasty combination.
  • Double stack: Just follow the directions for my cheesy eggplant stacks and serve it as a main dish! 
  • Different herbs: For a different taste, use fresh parsley instead of basil or try other dried herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar: Before serving, drizzle with a good quality balsamic vinegar, balsamic reduction or glaze like I do in my eggplant caprese!

Serving Suggestions

There are so many ways to serve this grilled eggplant appetizer from serving it with my favorite bruschetta with pesto or using it as a pizza topping with my no yeast pizza dough!

Serve it cold as part of an antipasti platter or warm as a side dish to any other summer grilling favorites! 

Storing Leftovers

While this is best fresh, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. Reheating will slightly change the texture, so I would enjoy it cold over some salad greens or on a slice of sourdough. I would not freeze leftovers. 

More Eggplant Recipes

Eggplant caprese on white plates.

When you are looking for an easy summer appetizer then I hope you give these Hot or Cold Grilled Eggplant Caprese a try and let me know. Buon Appetito!

Eggplant caprese on white plates.

Easy Hot or Cold Grilled Eggplant Appetizer

Rosemary Molloy
This grilled eggplant appetizer is tender, perfectly grilled and layered with a tomato slice, fresh mozzarella and basil then finished with a drizzle of olive oil! 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 263 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 slices eggplant (¼ inch slices)
  • 8 slices thick slices tomato (not too ripe, must be firm)
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano 1/2 gram
  • 1-2 pinches salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling

Instructions
 

  • Place the slices of eggplant in a medium bowl and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, let sit 20 minutes then drain but do not rinse. Using a pan grill or barbecue grill the slices of eggplant until soft. 
  • For hot grilled eggplant, place grilled eggplant slices on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, top with 1 slice of tomato, 1 slice of mozzarella (if you like sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella) then sprinkle with oregano, salt, fresh chopped basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Place under broiler and broil for a few minutes, just until mozzarella starts to melt, or it will become too watery.
  • For the cold grilled eggplant the same as the hot except do not broil.
  • Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

Eggplant is done when the skin around the edges starts to become wrinkled and then the middle is tender and somewhat custard-like in touch and appearance. If your eggplant feels spongy or rubbery, it’s not quite done. 
Eggplant is done when the skin around the edges starts to become wrinkled and then the middle is tender and somewhat custard-like in touch and appearance. If your eggplant feels spongy or rubbery, it’s not quite done. 

Nutrition

Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 457mg | Potassium: 369mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 896IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 305mg | Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Updated from June 17, 2015.

7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Rosemary,

    Just wanted to let you know that I make this recipe a lot since you first posted it on your blog and I can’t get enough of it!

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop Watch for your feature tomorrow xo

  3. Rosemary, what a delicious looking dish!! I’m still a bit wary of tomatoes- but I can eat them like in this dish- I can’t eat them like an apple- something my mom does all the time, lol. I’m putting eggplant on the grocery list for this week 🙂

  4. Nothing like fresh fruit from the garden to feast on. I love bringing the veggies in and then enjoying them. This is a great recipe — easy but tasty. Thank you for sharing.

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