Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich on Herbed Ciabatta Bread


I don't know why, but for some reason I'm all about eggplant when I'm at the store, but then dread actually cooking it once I get home. Even though it's not that hard to cook, usually it just ends up sitting in the hospice section of my vegetable drawer, along with a couple of rooting carrots and a few wilted celery sticks, until covered with brown spots. In fact, I'd already had this eggplant in my refrigerator for several days by the time I made this recipe, because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with it. But I was NOT going to let this one die a lonely death in the fridge, dang it! Not like the others. But what to make?? I thought about roasting it somehow, or grilling it maybe. Then I decided I wanted to do something with a kind of eggplant Parmesan vibe. I had picked up some really yummy looking ciabatta bread and a new pasta sauce I wanted to try out on another shopping trip, so I put it all together with some mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, and created this delicious brainchild.

I'm sure it's probably not the first time it's been done, but it was super delicious. I'm also very proud of myself for not letting this eggplant bite the dust. RIP previous eggplants. Hopefully you've been made into something yummy in eggplant heaven.


Getting Started




Start by cutting your eggplant into thin rounds and placing them into a strainer over the sink in layers, sprinkling liberally with coarse salt as you go. Let sit for 30 min, then rinse and pat dry. This will help draw out some of the bitterness that eggplants sometimes have. You don't have to do this step if you're pressed for time, but I think it does make it taste better.

While the eggplant is doing its thing, slice your mozzarella if needed, beat your eggs well, and toss your breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together. Lay out your crumb mixture in a shallow dish to make dredging easier. This is also a good time to start heating up your pasta sauce. I tried a new kind by Mezzetta (link below) that was so freaking good, but it was a little watery looking, so I let it simmer for about 30 min. This helped it to thicken up and intensify the flavors a bit.

Next heat enough oil in a skillet to cover the side of the eggplant slices at least up to halfway.  Once your eggplant is ready to go, dip each slice in egg, coat with breadcrumbs, and cook in the hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Let drain on some paper towels to get rid of excess oil. While cooking your eggplant slices, you can also warm up your bread in the oven.

To assemble your sandwiches, layer as follows while everything is still hot:

Bread
Sauce
Spinach
Mozzarella
Eggplant
Sauce
Fresh basil
More sauce for top bread slice
Bread

If you really want to go all in, you could add a second layer of eggplant and cheese - yum!



And there it is! The perfect eggplant Parmesan sandwich. The tangy pasta sauce combined with the melt-in-your-mouth eggplant, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella cheese was so good. I can't wait to make these again! There is hope for future eggplants in my fridge after all.

Ingredients


1 1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Update: just found out that real Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian. Try to find a vegetarian version, or you can simply leave this out and add more breadcrumbs. Thanks to JackAtlas on Reddit for letting me know!)
1 medium eggplant cut into thin slices
2 Tbs coarse salt for coating eggplant
2 eggs, beaten
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce. I used Mezzetta's Whole Garlic & Sweet Basil Marinara
6-12 Mozzarella cheese slices - 1 or 2 slices per sandwich
3-4 cups baby spinach
Bunch of fresh basil; use about 2-3 leaves per sandwich
6 Parmesan herb ciabatta rolls, or 12 slices of your favorite rustic bread
Vegetable oil for cooking; enough to cover eggplant slices at least halfway in your pan


Servings: About 6, but this depends on the size of your eggplant

Looking for another home run eggplant recipe? How about these Grilled Eggplant Fajitas?

 Grilled Eggplant Fajitas

Looking for other sandwich recipes? Try these on for size!

 Mushroom Medley Burger with Feta and Herbs

 Monster Veggie Sandwich with Homemade Pesto

 Sweet & Spicy Grilled Cheese on Sliced Pugliese




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