Grilled Vegetable Sandwich (version IV)

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grilled eggplant
2 red bell peppers
1 onion
1 loaf rustic bread
1 tomato, sliced
1 piece fresh goat cheese, (6-ounces)
1/4 cup finely sliced basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Eggplant
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mixed torn fresh herbs: basil, oregano, thyme and parsley

The best loaf for this sandwich is the ciabatta, a long, flat rectangle that splits neatly into sandwich-size lengths. You can also use any long round loaf--preferably the larger batard, though even the small baguette will do in a pinch. If using either of these, remove some of the soft inner bread after splitting.

Prepare Grilled Eggplant:

If using globe eggplants, cut in 1/2-inch-thick crosswise slices. If using Asian eggplants, cut in 1/4-inch-thick lengthwise slices, leaving eggplants attached at stem end so slices will fan when cooked.

In small bowl, mix together oil, garlic and salt.

Grill eggplant over medium heat until slices begin to soften, about three minutes. Brush tops with garlic oil and turn. Grill until bottoms are marked, about five minutes. Brush tops with garlic oil and turn once more. Cook until other side is marked, about five minutes.

While eggplant is grilling, scatter half of herbs across bottom of platter. When eggplant is done, remove to platter on top of herbs and brush tops with oil once more. Scatter remaining herbs over top and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

While eggplants are cooking, grill bell peppers, turning until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove peppers and place in plastic bag to cool. Peel onion, being careful not to trim root end, and cut in six pieces, lengthwise. Grill onion until soft, about 7 minutes. Peel peppers and remove stems, seeds and veins. Slice bread in half lengthwise.

Arrange Grilled Eggplant, peppers, onion and tomato slices in layers on bottom half. Crumble goat cheese over top. Sprinkle with basil leaves. Whisk together oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over top. Place top half of loaf on top of sandwich and press lightly. Cut in 8 pieces and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

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