With the burger grilling season upon us I like to include some grilled veggie options for my veggie loving friends. I find it hard to call it a grilled “sandwich”. The eggplant slices do function as the “bread” but it’s not a “sandwich” you’d want to hold in your hands to eat. Okay, maybe, if you don’t mind getting a bit messy. But then again, if Bobby Flay refers to this as a “sandwich”, then by all means, it is a sandwich!
I have followed his recipe using goat cheese and basil oil but this time I made it with fontina cheese and sage. It’s quite versatile and I find myself returning to this recipe often switching around the cheeses and herbs. When I have used a smaller, thinner eggplant, the stacks are more appetizer-like though I will serve this as a side, an appetizer or an entrée’. It’s wonderful served warm but just as good room temperature.
Adapted from Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill
For the herb oil:
½ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh sage or fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the eggplant sandwiches (for 8 sandwiches):
2 medium eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ – ½ inch slices, 16 slices
2 tomatoes cut into ¼ inch slices, 8 slices
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
8 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup packed fresh sage or fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade the basil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
For the herb oil: Combine the olive oil and herbs in a food processor, season with salt and pepper. Process until pureed, about 5 minutes.
For the sandwiches: Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large bowl or ziplock baggie. Add the eggplant and allow to marinate for 1 hour, refrigerated.
Preheat grill or grill pan to high. Remove eggplant from marinade and shake off any excess. Season with salt and pepper, grill until golden brown and cooked through about 3 minutes per side. Place 8 eggplant slices on a work surface. Top with a slice of tomato, slice of cheese and a few arugula leaves. Cover with the remaining eggplant slices. Place on grill until cheese has softened about 1 minute. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with the herb oil and sprinkle on fresh chopped herbs.