Eggplant stands in for bread in this savory and intriguing dish. Dredging the eggplant in polenta adds crunch.
2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut into 28 (1/2-inch-thick) slices
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 cup water
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fat-free milk
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup dry polenta
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
14 lemon wedges
How to Make It
Sprinkle eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place half of eggplant on a baking sheet; broil 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining eggplant.
Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add spinach; cover and cook 2 minutes or until wilted. Drain well. Place spinach on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Coarsely chop spinach.
Heat a medium skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper, and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice; cook 30 seconds or until liquid evaporates. Combine onion mixture and chopped spinach in a bowl; stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
Combine fontina and Parmesan in a small bowl. Working with 1 eggplant slice at a time, spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons spinach mixture evenly over each of 14 eggplant slices; sprinkle each with about 2 teaspoons cheese mixture. Cover with remaining eggplant slices, and gently press together.
Combine milk and egg whites in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Working with 1 sandwich at a time, brush both sides of each sandwich with milk mixture, and dredge in polenta.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of sandwiches; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining sandwiches. Serve with lemon wedges.
The flavors were great, but the recipe was far too convoluted and inexact to earn a higher rating. Eggplant slices were of varying width, depending whether they were toward the head or tail of the eggplant, and as a result most of the eggplant slices were far too small to hold the filling for the sandwiches. Most of this filling then got lost either in the milk mixture, polenta "breadcrumbs," or skillet. Using 1 cup dry polenta is a waste - you'll only need half that much. There needs to be more cheese, and a much higher spinach-to-onion ratio in the filling. Serve with lemon wedges also felt like a very odd presentation, and a waste, since only a tiny spritz of lemon is needed - perhaps a drizzle of lemon juice just before serving, rather than wasting all those lemon slices? In sum, the flavor could be delicious, but the preparation needs definite improvement.
These were excellent! I actually altered the recipe to save time and did not go as far as breading and frying the eggplant. Instead, after I had broiled the eggplant and made the spinach and onion saute, I stacked everything on flatbread and served them for lunch. They were a huge hit and my husband, a meat and potatoes lover, has asked me to make them again and again! The addition of the lemon juice to the spinach mixture gives it so much flavor and the eggplant was tender after broiling- even with the skin on. I also did not have fontina cheese so I used a hard Irish cheese and a few thin slices went a long way. These sandwiches will now be a regular addition to our menu.
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