Eggplant Sandwich

Rick Cooks Home Eggplant Sandwich

Lots of people ask me why I don't post more vegetarian recipes. My answer is that I'm not a vegetarian, nor vegan, nor uovo-lacto vegetarian, nor any other of the sects that eschew certain types of animal products.

But that doesn't mean that we don't enjoy lots of dishes that could fit into a vegetarian regimen. In fact, we could probably become vegans if we wanted to -- but we don't want to. It happens that on the Monterey Peninsula, which enjoys the abundance of vegetables from the nearby Salinas valley, there are lots of good meatless meals that people eat regularly, regardless of regimen.

Here's a good sandwich that we prefer on picnics and while travelling. We often fly Southwest Airlines, who don't serve meals, and the other airlines don't serve edible meals, which is fine with us, because we'd rather brown-bag than eat airline food. And it's fun to watch the reactions of fellow passengers as we enjoy these homemade eggplant sandwiches while they have to settle with pretzels or some mystery-meat-pasta-microwave-mini-meal.

This recipe uses Francesca rolls. If you can't get them, use a ciabbata bread or other sandwich roll, but scoop out the excess bread from inside the roll before adding the eggplant filling (you want to eat the filling, not the bread). It also calls for grilled eggplant slices and roasted red peppers (I always grill a sliced eggplant and roast a couple of red peppers every time I fire up the grill).

Variations of this recipe are common on the Monterey Peninsula.

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Eggplant Sandwich

*Makes 2 sandwiches*

2 francesca rolls
4 slices grilled eggplant
roasted red pepper
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
basil leaves
sliced mozzarella cheese

Slice francesca rolls in half and toast lightly. On bottom half of roll, add eggplant slices, roasted red pepper, and basil leaves. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Cover with cheese slices, then top half of roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and apply weight to squash flat.

Enclose in heavy duty foil before packing.