Craving a yummy Italian dish, but don’t want a heavy, greasy bowl of pasta? Try this recipe for warm grilled eggplant.

Craving a yummy Italian dish, but don’t want a heavy, greasy bowl of pasta? Warm grilled eggplant with the perfect amount of creamy cheese, topped with sweet, fresh heirloom tomato sauce, will be sure to satisfy.  These eggplants stacks are so versatile; they can be served as an appetizer, a light meal, with grilled fish, steak or chicken, or with a small side of farro, pasta, or quinoa. Bon appetit!

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1 large eggplant
2 large heirloom tomatoes
6 basil leaves
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 heaping tablespoons whole milk ricotta*
4 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
* Since only a small amount is required whole milk ricotta is recommended.  Look in the specialty cheese case for a specialty brand as it will be more flavorful.

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1. Heat the grill to medium high. Wash the eggplant and cut the ends off. Slice the eggplant, width-wise, into 8 coin size pieces. Toss the pieces in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and small amount of salt and pepper. Grill eggplant 2 minutes per side, keeping some texture.
2. While the eggplant is grilling, remove the stem and core from the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes, basil, 1 teaspoon olive oil and small amount of salt and pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until a fine salsa is formed. If you don’t have a food processor finely dice the tomatoes and basil and combine with the oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.
3. Build the stacks immediately after removing the eggplant from the grill. Use one slice eggplant for the base. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon over ricotta over the first slice. Add a spoonful of tomato sauce over the ricotta. Lay another slice of eggplant over the ricotta. Place one slice of the cheese over the eggplant.  Add another spoonful of sauce over the cheese.  Repeat this process to make 4 stacks total. Serve extra tomato sauce on the side.

More recipes from Jessica Cerra.

Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif.  She is also a professional Xterra triathlete and mountain biker.  Follow Jess’ recipes on her “Fit Food by Jess” Facebook page.