Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

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

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

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.

Yum

Ingredients

  • 1 large globe eggplant (about 1 lb), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • Salt
  • 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

Method

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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.

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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.

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Showing 4 of 22 Comments

  • Katie

    Hi Elise,
    Though I do love eggplant, I understand where you’re coming from. My favorite preparation is thinly sliced and grilled- either brushed with olive oil then a bit of salt and pepper or brushed with pesto. I’ve also come across an eggplant sandwich I like in Real Simple magazine a few months back. You bread and fry the eggplant like for eggplant parmesan, then use the eggplant itself as the ‘bun’, spread on goat cheese, add lettuce, tomato, and basil – voila! Also delicious (but maybe not desquished enough for the texture skeptic).

    Thanks, as always, for the great recipes!

    -Katie

  • rebecca h.

    Delish!

    When I worked in a lunch place we made sandwiches like these and they were awesome. We grilled eggplant and zucchini, and roasted red onion and red pepper and made them up with hummus on Turkish bread.

  • Michele

    I’m not a fan of eggplant either, but found out I love it if you just get the “squishy” factor out of the way. My favorite way is how I learned to cook it while taking students to a cooking school in Italy – cooked in a dry skillet until the water is gone then tossed in an olive oil and mint dressing. yum!

  • Shaheen

    Totally agree with you about these being squishy. But instead of detesting it for what it is, you could try making something that celebrates its mushiness. In India, we use these giant eggplants to grill on a cast iron pan (whole) and then peel off the skin and mash it all up to be used in “baigan bharta” or simply mashed eggplant. Every household has it’s way of flavouring it – my grand mom uses spring onions and then smokes it by creating a well in the mashed eggplant and filling it with some ghee/oil and then dropping in a flaming hot piece of charcoal and covering it tell the fragrances permeates through the entire dish. Very delicious.

    I love the eggplant + basil combination. Must remember to try it out sometime.

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