Time: about 1 hour. Charis Janda had trouble finding a restaurant that made eggplant sandwiches, so she invented this very tasty one. If you don't have time to make the tapenade, just substitute your favorite store-bought kind. The sandwich then takes 40 minutes to make.
Sunset JULY 2009
1. Prepare eggplant: Slice into 1/2-in.-thick rounds. Sprinkle both sides with salt and let sit 1/2 hour. Pat dry, brush with oil, and cook over medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet on both sides until cooked through, about 10 minutes total.
2. Meanwhile, make tapenade: Put garlic and anchovies to taste in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add olives, tomatoes, capers, basil, and pepper to taste and pulse to combine. Add oil and pulse until combined but still a little bit chunky.
3. Make sandwiches: Toss lettuce with a minimal amount of dressing. Spread 1 side of 2 bread slices with 2 tbsp. tapenade each. Brush other 2 slices with oil on 1 side, then turn over and top with most of brie, lettuce, red pepper strips, and eggplant, dividing evenly. Add remaining brie and top with tapenade-spread bread slices, with tapenade side down. Brush tops of sandwiches with olive oil and season with pepper.
4. Reheat cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Put sandwiches in skillet and cook, turning once until golden brown and cheese is gooey, about 5 minutes total.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per sandwich.
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