It is, perhaps, my greatest failing as a food lover that I do not like raw tomatoes. Yes, I’ve tried the gorgeous tiny ones that everyone says are like candy. Yes, I’ve tried them more or less fresh from the vine, at the peak of their season. On a very few occasions I have tried them and felt merely indifferent; most of the time, though, I find them slimy and foul. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call tomatoes evil, since I do enjoy them when cooked or otherwise altered from their raw form. But despite all my attempts, raw tomatoes remain goopy and gross to me.

One of the uses of tomatoes that always tempts me most is the glorious summer salad of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. I look at those beautiful Italy-striped plates and wish that, to me, they could taste as lovely as they look. Instead, two things that I adore are tainted by a third that I just can’t stand.

So I’ve worked out this alternative for myself. I take small eggplant, slice them into rounds, brush with olive oil, and roast until brown and crispy. They’re basically eggplant chips, the salty crunch of which then pairs wonderfully with the milky fresh mozzarella. Even if you do like tomatoes, this variation is worth a try.

Please ignore the browning basil. It was fresh, I swear.

Roasted eggplant with mozzarella and basil

Three small eggplants, sliced into 1/3-inch rounds
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450° F. Oil two large baking sheets, or coat with cooking spray. Brush eggplant with olive oil on both sides, then arrange in one layer on baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning over slices once, until tender and browned, about 20-25 minutes.

Brush eggplant with oil on both sides, then arrange in 1 layer on baking sheets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake eggplant, switching position of sheets halfway through baking and turning slices over once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes total.

Top eggplant slices with mozzarella and basil.

Serves 3.

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