I have a confession to make. I don’t much care for those big globe eggplants. I have tried to like them, truly I have, but I think it’s a texture thing. They just taste squishy to me. If squishy is a taste. So this last week, Hank and I have been experimenting with globe eggplants, trying to see what we could come up with that we truly liked, given the challenges of this ingredient. We’ve had a couple in-the-trash-it-goes experiments, and a couple of hits as well.
This grilled eggplant burger or sandwich is one of those hits. I made it again for my parents today and even my dad liked it. He had two. And he doesn’t like eggplant! The only reason he came over for lunch when he heard what I was serving was that mom was coming and he didn’t want to be left at home alone.
Here’s the problem with globe eggplants. They suck up enormous amounts of oil if you try to fry them. Salting them down helps a little, but the eggplants still often end up a soggy mess. Grilling or broiling the eggplants fixes this, however, and the large diameter of a globe eggplant makes for perfect rounds for a burger.
So consider this a sort of Mediterranean veggie burger: Grilled eggplant, a little marinated red onion and tomatoes, fresh mozzarella – and of course some fresh basil on top.
Grilled Eggplant Sandwich Recipe
This recipe calls for using a grill, but you could just as easily lay the eggplant slices on a broiling pan (pan rubbed first with some vegetable oil) and broil the slices a few minutes on each side.
- 1 large globe eggplant (about 1 lb), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large beefsteak tomato
- 1 medium red onion
- 10-12 fresh basil leaves
- About 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 small burger buns
1 Line a large tray with paper towels. Lay out the rounds of eggplant on the tray in a single layer. Salt generously on both sides. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
2 Cut the tomato into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut the red onion into 1/8 inch slices. Pour the two vinegars and a teaspoon of olive oil into a flat container such as a casserole dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and stir with a fork to combine. Lay the onions and tomatoes down in the container and turn to coat with the dressing.
3 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Make sure the grates are clean, and close the lid.
4 Once the eggplant slices have been sitting for at least 15 minutes, pat them dry with more paper towels. Use a pastry brush to paint them on both sides with olive oil. Lay the slices on the grill and grill them for about 3-4 minutes per side with the lid closed, until nicely browned. Remove from grill. Lightly toast the burger buns on the grill, for about 30 seconds to a minute, just enough to get lightly toasted.
5 To build the sandwich, set out your burger buns. Put two or three rounds of eggplant slices on top of the bottom bun. Then add a tomato slice and some red onion. Add a couple slice of the fresh mozzarella and top it with some basil leaves.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.