August 20, 2007
The Best Eggplant makes Great Sandwiches

People often debate about what kind of eggplant is best - long,skinny Japanese eggplants; big fat Sicilian eggplants; those little Thai eggplants that come in a variety of colors... I can finally settle this debate once and for all. The best eggplant is a free eggplant from a co-worker's garden.

I was the lucky recipient of one beautiful Italian eggplant from the garden of our gregarious receptionist who serves as our all-around beneficent minder of the staff at my workplace. She had grown a few of the purple lovelies and didn't know quite what to do with them. I gave her a couple of ideas and in return, she generously gave me a nice plump eggplant from her garden to do with as I wished.

And what I wished was that I had a good eggplant sandwich. My wife the Redhead wished for a good eggplant sandwich, too, but of a different sort. She rarely complains when I trash the kitchen while cooking, so I felt that accommodating her with a different type of eggplant sandwich was probably in order.

Now this is just a simple sandwich "recipe" so I won't go into measurements and instructions except to say that the two sandwiches we made were for me, sautéed eggplant, feta, roasted red pepper and mayo (actually Vegan mayo), and for her, the same eggplant with feta slices and basil/pine nut pesto, both served on toasted whole grain sandwich bread.

I infused a little extra flavor into the eggplant by blessing the oil with garlic. The instructions for that are after the jump:

Garlic -infused Eggplant slices for sandwiches

An eggplant, sliced on the bias into 1/4" rounds
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
oregano to taste

Lightly salt the eggplant rounds and let stand for 30 minutes to drag out any bitterness. Blot the slices to remove excess moisture.

In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat with the garlic for about three minutes. Don't let the garlic start to color or brown. Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside for re-use.

Place half the eggplant slices in the pan, and swirl them around so the underside gets coated with the oil. Flip the slices over immediately, and give them the same treatment so both sides get a little of the garlic-blessed oil. Turn the heat up to medium-high and sautée the slices until the bottoms start to brown just a little - about four minutes. Flip and repeat until both sides are browned. Remove the slices to a plate and sprinkle with fresh or dried oregano.

Repeat with the other two tablespoons of oil, re-using your original garlic and letting it brown this time.

Use finished slices for sandwiches. One small Italian globe eggplant should be good for three-four sandwiches.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at August 20, 2007 7:53 AM Print-friendly version

I will definitely try garlic-infusion next time, thanks for the tip.

I'm curious: why the different sandwiches?

Posted by paul on August 21, 2007 at 12:13 PM

Paul - of course garlic makes everything better.

We had different sandwiches because we were low on pesto and I wasn't so sure the red pepper would go so well with it, and that's what I really had the taste for. The Redhead wanted pesto on her sandwich and no red pepper, so it worked out well.

Posted by barrett on August 21, 2007 at 1:55 PM

Reasonable enough... so, which one was better?

Posted by paul on August 21, 2007 at 2:12 PM

Well, I thought the pesto one was fine, but I was craving roasted red pepper so my sandwich was clearly superior!

Posted by barrett on August 21, 2007 at 2:19 PM

My mouth is watering...Will this sandwich keep, wrapped up and refrigerated for a few hours? What is best prep for eggplant meant for a sandwich that is to be eaten later in the day?

Posted by bonaberg on August 24, 2007 at 9:05 AM

Bonaberg - I wrapped one up in aluminum foil and it worked fine later in the day. The feta and mayo should keep your bread dry from pepper and eggplant moisture.

You could also use tiny little tupperware containers (we have a lot of them, and construct the sandwich at lunch just before eating. Slices of eggplant I'd sauteed three days earlier were still great when I used them.

Posted by barrett on August 24, 2007 at 3:24 PM
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