Grilled Veg 2 - Eggplant (Sandwich)
Cousin of tomato and potato, great grilled
Here are two of the cousins together. After a little grilling on separate racks, the two will be reunited in a knock-us-over-and-jump-up-and-down-on-us sandwich.
We will get a little help from sourdough bread and mustard and mayo.
But the star, right up there on the marquee, is the eggplant outshining even cousin tomato on this occasion. Don't worry, the rivalry is friendly -- they take turns getting top billing.
Incidentally, eggplant, tomato, and potato are such close cousins that they might even be considered sisters or brothers. All three are members of the same family, the nightshade family (Solanaceae), and even of the same genus (Solanum) within that family.
Adopted member of the family
EVOO - extra virgin olive oil. It is essential for any dish involving eggplant (or tomato, or many other foods).
Pour some in the pan you are going to use to carry the eggplant slices to the grill.
Put them in, turn them over, add some more EVOO. Pretty simple, and that is part of the appeal of this delicious family reunion.
For EVOO, click here.
Halve the eggplant lenghtwise. Place one of the two halves cut-side down on a cutting board. Slice pieces that look like this. Repeat with the other half.
Just as easy as the previous step. So is plopping the pieces into the pan that has the EVOO, along with the tomato halves that we are going to grill at the same time.
There are several varieties of eggplant, by the way, even ones that are white or yellow. Size varies greatly also. However, the two most frequent types found in the supermarket are the dark purple one we are using here and an elongated, light purple one generally identified as "Chinese eggplant." This sandwich would be just as good with the Chinese one.
On the grill
Tomatoes up top. Eggplant down below.
Actually, the eggplant is going to cook so fast this way that you will have these pieces turned over and then off the grill before the tomatoes are fully done.
You won't have to wait long for the tomatoes to come along to the party, though. You could wait long enough for them to become really soft and then just mush (moosh) them down on the bread, but we took these off the grill when they were still firm enough to slice. The mushing has the advantage of real immersion in the eggplant; the firmness and the slicing have the advantage of crispness of taste.
Done to a turn
These were on the (of course preheated) grill for only two minutes before they were ready to turn.
A metal spatula, or burger-flipper, can be used, but so can tongs.
The tomatoes are roasting on the upper rack in the grill while all this eggplant flipping is going on down below.
The grill marks are attractive. Don't mind a little charring: that just emphasizes the grilling.
Grill the sourdough, too
These pieces which will frame our eggplant sandwich are from a brand new, fresh baguette -- not just any old baguette, but a sourdough baguette, which is a little more solid than the regular one. Of course this bread would be delicious, very delicious, without being grilled. You might even prefer it that way.
Grilling does add something, however. Not too much grilling. Just enough to warm the bread and ensure you know when you bite into it that it has had a trip to the flame. Whatever stiffness the grill imparts will be softened by the olive oil.
About to be a sandwich
We have the Indian subcontinent to thank, as mentioned above for the origin of the eggplant.
The origin is ancient, so ancient in fact that it's possible the eggplant originated in other places, like SE Asia, as well. But what is known for sure is that this delicious vegetable (botanically it is, like its cousin, classified as a fruit) was early perceived as valuable and cultivation began to spread.
Asia kept its secret for well over a thousand years, however. Although the eggplant spread to Persia and other parts of the Near East (and to China, of course), it appears not to have become known in the West until around the year 1500 Not until then did the cousins have a chance to meet.
Here is the sandwich
A very easy sauce, or spread, will do this sandwich just right.
Spread mayo on one of the pieces of bread. Spread Dijon mustard on the other. That's it!
Assemble the grilled eggplant slices on one piece. Slice one of the tomato halves in two and put both pieces on the other piece of bread.
This is the sandwich lover's dream, is it not? Even a meat lover will find this sandwich fulfilling and delicious.
All together now
The taste is peerless.
The flavors of eggplant, tomato, mustard, mayo and sourdough are blended together in each mouthful, but also each flavor retains its own identity. If you want to call this magic, go ahead!
But first take a big bite.
A better view
Wouldn't this picture look great on your tablet computer next to where you are grilling your own eggplant?
The eggplant was at one point considered by some to be poisonous, like its cousin -- tomatoes. Tomatoes were for a long time known as "poison apples."
It seems incredible now. Think of all the delicious sandwiches those deluded pioneers chose to forgo.
Part of a series
Pictures, pictures, pictures
Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series, can be found at this link: Lee White's Department Store
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.