Wipe a large aubergine, or two small ones, remove and discard the stalks then slice into rounds, roughly a centimetre thick. Heat the grill, place the aubergine slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Blitz 15g of basil leaves and stalks with eight tablespoons of olive oil to a vivid green dressing in a blender or food processor. Trickle two thirds of the basil oil over the aubergines, scatter with a little sea salt and place under the grill. Leave the aubergines to cook for 10 minutes or so, watching them carefully and turning them once so they cook evenly. They should be soft and lightly toasted.
Thinly slice a ball of mozzarella and place the slices on top of the aubergines. Season with salt and black pepper. Return to the grill and leave to cook until the mozzarella starts to melt into pools. Finish with a few basil leaves if you wish and serve with toasted ciabatta. Serves 2.
Mozzarella should melt rather than cook. It needs just a minute or two under the grill in order to soften. Once it has started to change colour to gold then it will toughen. Keep the cooking quick and watch the cheese carefully. There is no need to salt the aubergines first.
Try spreading a thin layer of pesto on the grilled aubergines before adding the mozzarella. Use a little tomato or chilli sauce on the aubergines, under the cheese. Add garlic to the basil dressing. Goat's cheese is an alternative to the mozzarella, use it in thick slices cut from a log. Rosemary, thyme sprigs and pine kernels could be scattered over the cheese before grilling.
Vote for your favourite local restaurant, cookbook, food personality and more! Everyone who votes is automatically entered into a prize draw to win a Caribbean holiday. For more details, see theguardian.com/observer-food-monthly-awards
Email Nigel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater
Tasty rounds: aubergine and mozzarella. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer