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Crispy fried eggplant rings layered with heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, topped with basil pesto and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. The perfect al fresco summer recipe.


This crispy eggplant dish reminds us for a light and refreshing caprese salad that you can enjoy on a beautiful hot summer day. The crunching panko breading on the eggplant adds such a nice crunch to the juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Top this off with fresh basil pesto and you’ve got a wining combination.

I don’t know about you guys but fresh basil pesto is something we make all summer long. The vibrant green color and the herbaceous basil is so appealing and such a great way to add freshness and vibrancy to any dish.

We’re frying the eggplant here but for a lighter version you can opt for grilling your eggplant instead. Don’t be shy of frying your eggplant here its easy and quick with little mess. You simply add a small amount of oil to a pan just enough that it covers the eggplant halfway. We used already seasoned panko breadcrumbs for simplicity and used coated the eggplant in a wet batter consisting of flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and water which add a nice crispy golden look to our fried eggplant.


Once you’ve made your basil pesto and have the eggplants fried or grilled all you need to do from here is make your stack. We started with the heirloom tomato slice at the bottom, next went with the mozzarella slice and then the crispy eggplant ring. You can double stack or make one stack, it is quite filling so if your looking for a lighter bite we suggest only doing one stack.

To finish the dish we added a some fresh arugula to our plate and topped the stack with a generous amount of basil pesto you can drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the pesto to make it a bit more oily and then finished the dish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and squirt of lemon juice.





Crispy fried eggplant rings layered with heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, topped with basil pesto and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. The perfect al fresco summer recipe.

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Appetizers
Servings: 2
Author: the communal feast


  • 1 eggplant sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella sliced into rounds
  • 1 heirloom tomato sliced
  • 2 cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil or canola oil for frying
  • Wet batter:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup water
  • Basil pesto:
  • 2 cups basil
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Garnish:
  • Fresh arugula
  • Balsamic reduction


1. Make the basil pesto: Add all ingredients to a food process except for olive oil. Pulse the ingredients and drizzle the olive into the food processor as your pulsing. Continue until your reach a smooth consistency. About 3 minutes.

    2. Heat frying oil in a shallow pan. Set up your dredging station by placing the panko in one container and mixing the wet batter ingredients into another container. Coat the eggplant rounds in the wet batter then into the panko making sure to press the panko into the eggplant so it sticks. Place onto a plate and repeat until all rounds are coated in panko. Once the oil is hot enough add a few rounds at a time to your pan working in batches and fry the eggplant. Fry on both sides for about 3 minutes until they turn golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel.

      3. To assemble start by placing the heirloom tomato slice down first on your plate, next add a slice of mozzarella and then the fried eggplant round. Optional to build a second stack or just one. For double stack repeat layer.

        4. Optional to garnish plate with fresh arugula. Next add a generous dollop of basil pesto on top of the eggplant. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil overtop and finish the plate with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and a squeeze of lemon juice.



        April 13, 2021


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