Who needs meat when vegetables are so versatile. Eggplant is my favorite vegetable to use to achieve that meaty bite. I really don’t understand when people say they don’t like eggplant – in my mind, that just means they haven’t had it the right way. Eggplant will absorb any flavors you put onto it, so it is all about how you prepare it. This recipe for a grilled eggplant sandwich is the perfect way to enjoy eggplant in all its delicious simplicity. A little bit of charred grill lines is all it takes to take the neutral taste of eggplant from zero to hero. Enjoy!
Eggplant: lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol with its chlorogenic compound, is anti-carcinogenic due to its antioxidant nasunin content, is a great source of dietary fiber, protects against colon cancer, and is a great source of vitamin A, B vitamins, folate and vitamin C.
Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with Caramelized Onions and Garlic Yogurt Sauce
For the grill:
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch slices
- 1 large tomato, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 4 long green peppers, kept whole
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the stove:
- 1 very large onion, sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 4 100% whole-grain buns
- Lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup yogurt mixed with 1 minced garlic clove
Directions: For the grill: Before you slice the eggplant, width-wise, first skin the sides of the whole eggplant, along the length, but only every inch, to create a zebra-like effect. The skin is helpful in keeping the body of the eggplant together, but it has a bitter taste, so it is helpful to remove some of it. Now you can slice them. Brush each side of the eggplant, tomatoes and pepper with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate so that the oil can sink into the vegetables.
For the stove: Meanwhile, over a medium stove top, add the 3-4 tablespoons olive oil to a pan along with the onion, red bell pepper and salt. Use a spatula to break the onion rings away from one other. Once the onions are translucent, add the pepper, paprika and soy sauce. Continue to cook until the onions turn soft and have a caramelized tone. Set aside to cool lightly.
For the grill: Fire the grill. Once it reaches 100-150 degrees Fahrenheit, place the eggplants tomato rounds and green peppers on the grill and close the lid. Watch the temperature. When it reaches 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit, peak at the bottom of the eggplants to see if they have grilled marks and are softened. Turn over, along with the tomatoes and green pepper. Close the lid and continue to cook.
Note: The tomatoes will require less time, so keep an eye on them throughout the process – they may be turned over prior to the eggplants and will require less time on the opposite side as well. They should be intact, not mushy. The green peppers should be removed once slightly charred all over and apparently soft.
When the temperature reaches 550-600 degrees Fahrenheit, check the bottom of the eggplants for grill markets and a deeper color. They should be soft throughout. Remove from the grill and place on a tray.
For the assembly: Lay out the bottom portion of a bun on a plate. Make a layer of lettuce, followed by a dollop of yogurt, 1 slice of eggplant, a bit of caramelized onion and red pepper, a slice of grilled tomato, another slice of eggplant and a bit more of the caramelized onion and red pepper. Top with a condiment of your choice (not necessary) and the other bun half. Serve with a grilled green pepper on the side. Repeat with the remaining 2-3.
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