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.
LOVED this recipe! I baked a Pilsbury Italian bread, then made paninis with this recipe on a george f. grill. I also added shredded leftover chicken breast and only fresh parsley to the aoli and refrigerated while I grilled the eggplant and red onion (with garlic pepper & salt only). Then, once all components were ready to go, I took the bread shell for the panini, packed the aoli chicken in the bottom, topped with tomato, grilled eggplant, grilled red onion, romaine lettuce and then two slices of Harvarti cheese. Placed the panini on the grill for 5 minutes on high, cut in half and served with carrot sticks. Wow was the result and I'm looking forward to making again incredibly soon - enjoy!!!!
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