For a more satiating and hearty version of the Italian classic, try this Eggplant Caprese Salad with sweet tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and aged balsamic vinegar topped with some aromatic crispy garlic. This gluten-free and low-carb-friendly salad meal can be served as a light main or as a side dish.
Caprese Salad With Grilled Eggplant
I adore the classic Italian Caprese salad made with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil but I wanted to create a more filling version with grilled eggplant (or aubergine) to make it into a more substantial meal. Crispy fried garlic and aged balsamic vinegar give this salad a real flavour punch, which I love, but of course, you can use a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon instead.
This salad is vegetarian-friendly and great for Meat-Free Mondays and is also gluten-free and low-carb friendly. You could also make it dairy-free by omitting the cheese and adding a sliced boiled egg or plant-based cheese alternative.
I enjoyed this eggplant Caprese salad as a light dinner meal but you can serve it as a side dish or turn it into a bigger meal with an addition of grilled chicken, steak, or fish. This would look fabulous on a dinner party table.
Making Egplant Caprese
You will find the full recipe and nutritional breakdown for this salad below but here are some handy tips:
- This eggplant recipe is designed as a meal for one person or as a side dish or starter to share.
- You can use larger tomatoes such as Roma or round, and simply slice them, but I love using cherry tomatoes because they are usually so much sweeter.
- I used buffalo mozzarella, which I think is tastier, but you can use regular milk mozzarella or bocconcini cheese instead.
- Aged, thickened balsamic vinegar works best as it adds a little sweetness but you can use regular balsamic vinegar or lemon juice too. There is no need to be precise with this dish, a little less or more of any ingredient will not change the beauty of this salad.
More Eggplant Recipes
- Marvellously Creamy Eggplant Salad (Whole30, Paleo)
- Baked Eggplant With Italian Salsa
- Pisto (Spanish Vegetable Stew)
- Eggplant Babaganush Salad Dip
Caprese salad is traditionally made with buffalo mozzarella but I love the addition of grilled eggplant to make it a more filling one-plate meal. If you want to make a larger portion, simply double the ingredients.
- 1 large eggplant (aubergine), sliced into 0.5-cm thick disks
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 5–6 tablespoons olive oil or macadamia oil (more if needed)
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved (1 large tomato can be sliced instead)
- 3 oz / 80-90 grams soft mozzarella cheese (buffalo mozzarella is best), sliced
- 10 medium basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- Extra sea salt and pepper to season
- Slice the eggplant and spread the disks on a chopping board or a plate. Sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Leave for 5-10 minutes to draw out some of the juices. This will make the eggplant less oil hungry. Pat the pieces lightly with paper towel.
- Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat (not too hot as to not burn the oil). Once hot, add the eggplant slices and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until grill marks appear. You will need to drizzle more oil over the slices once you turn them as they will absorb the initial amount instantly. They will not cook properly if left too dry. Don’t panic too much about the amount of olive oil used, it’s all good stuff and not a problem in a lower carbohydrate dish such as this one.
- Once cooked, layer the eggplant on a larger serving plate and set aside.
- Add a little more olive oil to the frying pan and add the garlic slices. Cook over medium heat for a minute or so on each side, until golden brown.
- Top the cooked eggplant evenly with mozzarella slices, halved tomatoes, basil leaves and fried garlic. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and season with a little extra sea salt and pepper.
- Serving Size: Half of the salad
- Calories: 490
- Sugar: 13.1 g
- Sodium: 859.2 mg
- Fat: 41.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 10.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 22.1 g
- Fiber: 9.1 g
- Protein: 13 g
- Cholesterol: 33.6 mg
Have you made a Caprese salad at home before? Would you like to try my eggplant version? Perhaps you have your own variation. Tell me below and don’t forget to rate this recipe and share with friends and family.