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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grilled Eggplant & Mozzarella Sandwich with a Balsamic Reduction

I don't have a picture of this latest creation but just imagine yumminess.... oozing out on a roll.  

We love eggplant and it's cheap to buy this time of year from local farmers so we decided to use some in a sandwich.   We were trying to imitate a sandwich we had from a local deli but they fry their eggplant and we didn't want to do that.  However, you certainly can if you prefer.  You can toss with some breadcrumbs and saute it to make it extra crispy.  

1 medium - large eggplant, washed and cut into 3/4" slices (leave skin on)
1 ball of fresh mozzarella (sliced 1/2" thick)
1 jar of roasted red peppers, sliced thin
1/4 onion, sliced
Dash of salt
3 cups balsamic vinegar (which will be your balsamic reduction sauce)
3-4 sandwich rolls or bread of your choice (or foccaccia bread is AMAZING)
optional:  2 TBS pesto

1.  Slice up your mozzarella several hours before starting to drain out the moisture.  You don't want a watery sandwich and that cheese is full of moisture.   Slice it and place on a plate of paper towels with additional paper towels on top and then refrigerate for 2-4 hours before using. 

2.  Use a small pan and coat with a little EVOO.  Heat on medium-high.   Once warm, add the onion and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.   Stir well for 3-5 minutes until tender-crisp. 

3.  After slicing up your eggplant, lay out on a plate and sprinkle with a TINY bit of salt on each piece (it helps to dry out the eggplant a little).  

4.  Preheat a small stove burner to medium high heat.   Add the balsamic vinegar to a small sauce pan.   Once the stove is heated, add the pan.   Wait for the bals vinegar to boil slightly.  Start stirring with a whisk.   Turn the stove down enough to just keep it simmering, but not a high boil.  Stir every minute or so.   Once the sauce starts to thicken up, stir more frequently to keep it from burning then remove from heat.   The whole process should only take 3-5 minutes.   Immediately pour the bals vinegar (which should now be very very dark & very thick, almost a syrup consistency) into a separate container.   Some people like to add a dash of sugar or herbs to the bals reduction at this point.  We kept ours as is but make it to taste.  

5.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  Once heated, add the eggplant and cook 3-4 minutes on each side.  You have to be careful not to overcook or else the skin will get crispy and the inside will get mushy.

6.  Add the rolls (or bread) on the top shelf of the grill to slightly brown.  Will only take a few seconds to be done.

5.  Assemble the sandwich as follows: 
One slice of eggplant, one slice of mozzarella,  a second slice of eggplant, (optional to add more mozzarella here too), then add 1 TSP of the roasted red pepper and onion, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction, top with other piece of bread.    (optional to spread a little pesto on the top layer of roll).  Enjoy!

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