Grilled eggplant sandwiches

(Suzanne kreiter/globe staff)
August 13, 2008

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Serves 4

At Brookline's Allandale Farm, says farm manager John Lee, customers are particular about their eggplant, which come in many varieties. Some people are looking for the long, slender Japanese variety for cutting on the bias and stir-frying with ginger, others for the popular Rosa Bianca, a large, squat, striped eggplant that's good for stuffing. The petite white Snowy (below) are great for slicing, grilling, and layering into sandwiches. Alas, as for flavor of the vegetable, says Lee, "Unless you're a real eggplant-o-phile, there are minimal taste differences." Still, the white slices, filled with tomato, basil, and mozzarella, make a splendid looking and fine tasting supper. Toss extra grilled eggplant with olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar, and a handful of herbs for tomorrow night's pasta or tuck them into crusty bread for a more traditional sandwich.

4 white eggplant (or use another variety)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 balls fresh mozzarella (6 ounces each), cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
10 basil leaves, coarsely torn
1. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds. You need 16 slices. Spread out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, light a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to medium-high heat.

3. Rinse the eggplant and pat it dry. Brush the rounds with olive oil. Arrange the sliced eggplant on the grill. Cook without moving for 5 minutes or until the rounds are lightly charred on the bottom. Turn, brush again with oil, and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through.

4. Arrange 2 rounds on each of 4 plates. Add a slice of mozzarella to each round, then a slice of tomato, salt, pepper, and a few pieces of basil. Sprinkle with olive oil. Top each sandwich with another slice of eggplant. Leigh Belanger