For these grilled eggplant sandwiches, use a sliced loaf of good-quality Italian bread; its dense texture stands up to grilling. Red onion and creamy aioli sauce put this flavorful sandwich over the top.
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices red onion
8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices Italian bread
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
2 cups lightly packed arugula leaves
How to Make It
To prepare aioli, combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill.
To prepare sandwiches, arrange eggplant in a single layer on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of eggplant with salt; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Rinse eggplant with cold water. Drain and pat dry.
Combine thyme, parsley, and rosemary in a small bowl, stirring well. Lightly coat eggplant slices with cooking spray; sprinkle with herb mixture.
Arrange eggplant and onion on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes on each side or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Remove from heat, and keep warm. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 1 minute on each side or until toasted.
Spread about 2 teaspoons aioli over 1 side of 4 bread slices; divide eggplant and onion evenly among bread slices. Place 2 tomato slices on each sandwich; top each serving with 1/2 cup arugula. Spread about 2 teaspoons of remaining aioli over 1 side of remaining 4 bread slices; place on top of sandwiches.
Wine note: With vegetables we often think white wine, but grilled eggplant's smoky flavor and pleasantly bitter skin marries well with medium-bodied, rustic reds. Try a Tuscan blend like Tenuta di Arceno PrimaVoce 2003 ($20). The wine's cherry fruit has hints of leather and earth to amplify the herbal flavors of rosemary and thyme, while its vivid acidity balances the creamy aioli. --Jeffery Lindenmuth
Note: Sprinkle eggplant with salt; let it stand, applying pressure periodically, and rinse before grilling to leach excess moisture and bitterness.