Open Faced Eggplant Sandwiches
This weekend was a tough one for egging. We made dinner plans Saturday and Sunday and lunch plans on Saturday. Although Monday was Labor Day, I had to fly to Seattle for depositions. So I was left with only one grilling opportunity on Labor Day weekend – a sad state of affairs!
The deck was also stacked against me because we had a pile of vegetables from the CSA and our garden. This was not the time to bust out with a beer can chicken. Surveying the bounty, I decided to grill up some eggplant. We had some cheese in the fridge and a fresh loaf of sourdough bread. So it was grilled eggplant sandwiches for lunch on Sunday.
I’d never grilled eggplant before. It’s such a weird vegetable – kind of the vegetarian equivalent of spam. I sliced the eggplants lengthwise into quarter-inch eggplant steaks. I drizzled them with olive oil and instantly wished I’d brushed instead – the eggplant immediately absorbs the oil right at the point of contact. Lesson learned. I salted and peppered and let them sit.
Next I fired up the Big Green Egg for direct cooking. Once it was up over 350 degrees I threw the eggplant on the fire. I checked them after about 5-6 minutes at about 375 and it was time to flip. In total, I only grilled the eggplant for about 12 minutes. Much less time than other vegetables take.
While I was grilling the eggplant I also grilled some red onion. I used a trick I learned with my zucchini casserole, grilling a quarter-inch cross-cut slice of the onion (so the concentric circles stayed together in a nice little package).
After I pulled the veggies I closed up the top and bottom vents on the Big Green Egg. You don’t want too much flame when grilling melts / cheese sandwiches. I sliced the bread, brushed one side with olive oil, then made little stacks of bread (oil side down), eggplant, red onion, and a cheddar / gruyere cheese from Trader Joe’s. I put the sandwiches on the grill at about 325 and checked them every few minutes. Turns out I cooled the fire down a little too much, so after the cheese was melted (5 minutes or so) I opened the lid and let the flames do their work on the bottom of my bread.
Pure deliciousness! This was a great way to use some veggies and get my egg fix. The only thing I would do differently in the future would be to put something between the eggplant and the bread to hold the eggplant to the bread. Maybe a small slice of cheese or a creamy sauce of some kind. But all in all, I would call it a success.
Slice eggplant and red onion into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill 5-6 minutes per side at 375, checking to prevent burn. Remove eggplant and onions from the grill.
Close vents to lower temperature to 325 and quiet flames. Brush slices of bread with olive oil on one side. On the other side, stack eggplant, red onion, and cheese. Grill for approximately 5-7 minutes, checking to prevent burn. If cheese melts before bottom of bread is toasted, open lid and bottom vent to increase flames.