Before delving into remembrances of vacations past, I’d like to share this sandwich with you. After weeks of European indulgences, Tristan and I were in the mood for veggies. Something no-fuss but warm. So before heading off to the University District Farmers’ Market, we frantically flipped through 2 back issues of Gourmet for inspiration. The Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Heros started waving and hollering at us immediately.
So we high-tailed it over to the market and picked up 2 beautifully purple eggplants (one for the sandwiches and one for the Baba Ghanoush I’ve been hankering to make). With the addition of colorful Heirloom tomatoes, a fresh bunch of basil, a baguette and some provolone, we were cruising toward sandwich bliss.
This recipe could easily be made quicker by subbing in a prepared tomato sauce, but what fun is that? So minus the scratch sauce-making, this veggie sandwich is remarkably simple and finger-licking good.
Broiled Eggplant Sandwiches
My take on the Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Heros in the September 2009 edition of Gourmet. Since we don’t have an outside grill, we used that trusted but underused oven function.. the broiler.
Makes 2 large or 3 regular sandwiches.
1 lb fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing eggplant slices
1 shallot or ½ small onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1 eggplant, cut into ½-inch thick slices
Crusty rolls, split
Thinly sliced provolone or fresh mozzarella
½ cup fresh basil leaves
Roughly chop the tomatoes and toss into a blender; puree until smooth.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot/onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in pureed tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat broiler on high. Place eggplant slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pan 6-inches below broiler and broil until soft and lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Turn slices over and repeat on opposite side. Remove from oven.
Toast split rolls/baguette under broiler until just toasty (insides only). Remove from oven and spread sauce on the bottoms and top with broiled eggplant and sliced cheese. Return to broiler until cheese begins to melt. Top with fresh basil and additional sauce.