Summer Gatherings by Rick Rodgers
- 1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the eggplant
- 8 slices crusty rustic bread
- 4 Tbsp Classic Basil Pesto or your favorite pesto
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 4 oz rindless goat cheese (chevre), crumbled
- Toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a colander. Place in sink and let stand for 1 hour to drain off excess juice. Rinse eggplant under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Build a fire for grilling in an outdoor grill. For a charcoal grill, let coals burn until they are covered with white ash. Spread out the mound of coals into a bank, with one side about two coals deep; the other side of the slope should include a scattering of single coals. For a gas grill, preheat grill on high. Leave one side on high and turn the other side to low. In both cases, you will have two areas for cooking, one hot and the other cooler.
- Lightly oil cooking grate. Brush eggplant on both sides with olive oil. Place over the hotter side of the grill and cover. Grill until the undersides are seared with grill marks, about 2 minutes. Turn and sear the other sides, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to the cooler side of the grill, cover, and grill until eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes. During the last minute or so, place bread slices on grill to toast them lightly.
- Spread 4 bread slices with pesto. Place, pesto side up, on a work surface. Top each with equal amounts of eggplant, tomatoes, and crumbled goat cheese. Top each with a slice of bread and cut in half crosswise. Serve immediately or cooled to room temperature.