Back in April when Paul popped through Vancouver for a few days en route to a conference we had dinner with his parents one evening. Because it was Easter weekend, there was a ham. And pierogies. Because I am vegetarian and my in-laws always make sure there is enough for me to eat, there was also a baked Eggplant Parmesan. At some point in the evening I heard my father-in-law say, "the leftovers are going to make great sandwiches", and because my brain is wired a little differently I thought he was referring to the leftover eggplant, not the ham, and I sat and quietly drooled over the thought of eggplant parmesan sandwiches.
A little while later, the idea still hand't left my consciousness, and when I started to see luscious looking eggplants turning up in the markets I thought I had better get to it. But then I had another thought; what if, instead of making the eggplant parmesan and stuffing it between two slices of bread with some cheese and tomatoes, what if the eggplant was the bread?
This recipe really couldn't be easier. Thin slices of eggplant are dunked in an egg-wash bath, dredged in a mixture of breadcrumbs and finely shredded Parmesan cheese, then baked in the oven until they are soft on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. Once your 'bread' is ready, you can add any combination of fillings. I've gone with a caprese salad concept; thick sliced juicy tomatoes, soft fresh bocconcini cheese, a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and a tangy balsamic vinegar, fresh basil leaves, and a smattering of salt and pepper. I think a soft goats cheese and some sundried tomatoes and salty black olives would be a great combination as well. You could use long, thin, Japanese eggplants and make this into cocktail party fair. This will be a repeat item in my kitchen to be certain.
One year ago:Cold Rice Noodles with Cashews
Baked Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Sandwiches Recipe:
When you're breading the eggplant, use a dry hand wet hand system where one hand deals with dunking the eggplant into the egg-wash, and the other deals only with lifting the eggplant out of the bowl of bread crumbs. Otherwise your hands will be a gummy mess. A helper is good for this too.
My medium eggplant yielded six sandwiches.
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1.5cm thick slices
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1 large ball of bocconcini cheese, or similar
1 large tomato
fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or brush it lightly with olive oil. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan in a wide bowl, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Mix well. In another bowl whisk the egg and water together. Dunk slices of eggplant first in the egg, and then into the bread crumbs. Press on each side to ensure the bread crumbs are well adhered, and then place the breaded slice on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you've run out of eggplant. Bake for 15 min, then remove from the oven and carefully turn each slice over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until eggplant is soft and the breading is crispy and golden. Remove from the oven.
Allow the eggplant to cool slightly while you ready the sandwich fillings. Pair up eggplant slices of similar sizes, and then begin layering sandwich fillings. First a slice of tomato, then a slice of bocconcini cheese. A sprinkle of salt and pepper, then a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then a a few basil leaves. Top with the second slice of eggplant.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2011