Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eggplant & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Picture this: you're standing in front of piles of fresh produce. Gingerly you reach out for the dark purple, almost black, shiny eggplant. You look left and see mushrooms galore. To the right, peppers in a myriad of colors. Green, yellow, orange, red! Colors and springtime smells assault you from every direction. Fresh basil, sage, parsley, cilantro. Tomatoes of every size and shape from huge bright orange beefsteaks to round red beauties still attached to the vine to small grape tomatoes. Mountains of avocados, piles of leafy celery, bunches of carrots that look like they've just been pulled from the ground. And the assault to your happy sense goes on!

If you're anything like me then you will have been throwing things into your basket with reckless abandon. Not a thought for what I could or will make, just knowing that I want all of those veggies.

After a couple times of doing this, Rob said, "Hey, what are you gonna do with all of this stuff? There's too much!" No way! So, I invented my sandwich. Here goes:


1 eggplant, medium size
1 jar fire roasted peppers (you can buy them or roast them yourself)
1 jar marinated mushrooms, sliced (or a nice roasted portobello mushroom)
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes (or nice thick slices of fresh tomatoes)
1 avocado, mashed
4 Tbsn pesto
1 loaf ciabatta bread

*Note: I'm giving you the quick version so that you can try it. If you love it, then try the items that are in parentheses! All of these items are readily available in supermarkets. I get my stuff at Trader Joe's.

First, peel your eggplant. Cut it in 1/2" slabs length-wise.

Now an interesting thing about eggplant: It has a bitter taste that throws a lot of people off. You can get rid of that taste. Liberally salt both sides of your eggplant slices and lay out on a cookie sheet. This process, called "sweating" releases the bitter taste and makes the eggplant easier to roast. (This method should be used with every eggplant recipe you have!) It will take about a 1/2 hour to 'sweat' your eggplant. Rinse the pieces thoroughly when you have noticed that they have released quite a bit of moisture. I like to tilt the cookie sheet in the sink so the liquid runs right off.

Now lay your rinsed pieces on a cookie sheet that you have sprayed with cooking spray or lined with a silicon baking sheet. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Halfway through flip the pieces over.

While that's roasting, cut your ciabatta loaf in half horizontally (like you're making a huge sandwich). Spread your pesto on one side of the bread and your mashed up avocado on the other side. Lay your peppers, mushrooms and finally your eggplant out evenly over the length of the bread. *You'll use about 1/2 a jar of peppers, 4 Tbsn of the mushrooms and 3 slabs of eggplant and, depending on the size of the tomatoes, about 2 regular sized tomatoes.

Put the top of the bread on, wrap in tin foil and put into the heated oven for 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and carefully cut into pieces. I end up with about 10 pieces and serve 2-3 per person. Great with soup, perfect with chips. There really is no wrong way to have this sandwich!

This is a favorite weekend sandwich in our house! Hope you'll give it a try.