Grilled Eggplant with Goat Cheese

1 eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon drained capers
black pepper to taste
few sprigs fresh basil and/or parsley, chopped

Preheat broiler and, if using, start barbecue.

Cut off top 1/2 inch of the eggplant and discard. Slice 12 perfect round slices, about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant slices, and let rest 10 minutes.

Rinse salt off the slices and pat dry. Brush each side of slices with the olive oil. Lay them out on a baking sheet and broil them 6 to 7 minutes on the first side, until soft. Flip them, and broil the second side for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from broiler. Arrange eggplant slices on the baking sheet in 4 clusters of 3 slices each. Divide the cheese into 4 equal portions and form each into a patty; place one patty in the center of each cluster. Sprinkle each cluster evenly with the olive oil.

Return to the broiler and broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and has started to brown a little.

With a spatula, carefully lift each cluster onto a plate. Sprinkle with the vinegar, capers, black pepper and chopped herb(s). Serve immediately.

Notes : In barbecue season, it is best to grill the eggplant slices instead of broiling them (Step 2). Grill 4 to 5 minutes on one side, turn over and grill another 3 minutes. You'll still need the broiler for the final gratin.

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