Grilled Eggplant, Red Pepper and Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Use any type of herbed fresh goat cheese you like. Or, you can make your own by mixing 3 Tbs. minced fresh chives, parsley, chervil, thyme or basil, or a mixture, into plain goat cheese.
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
- 1/2 large eggplant, about 3/4 lb., cut crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper
- 4 large ciabatta rolls or crusty French rolls, split
- 1/4 lb. herbed fresh goat cheese, softened
- 8 to 12 large fresh basil leaves
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add the eggplant slices and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack. Or, preheat a broiler.
For a grill: Using tongs, set the bell pepper over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill. Grill, turning the pepper with the tongs, until the skin is blistered and charred black on all sides, about 15 minutes. Enclose the pepper in a paper bag and let stand until cool enough to handle.
Remove the eggplant slices from the marinade and place over the hottest part of the fire or directly over the heat elements. Grill, turning the slices once, until softened, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Place the rolls, cut side down, over the hottest part of the fire or directly over the heat elements and grill until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes.
For a broiler: Set the bell pepper on a baking sheet and place in the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil, turning the pepper with tongs, until the skin is blistered and charred black on all sides, about 15 minutes. Enclose the pepper in a paper bag and let stand until cool enough to handle.
Remove the eggplant slices from the marinade and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil, turning the slices once, until softened, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Place the rolls, cut sides up, on the baking sheet and broil until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove the stem from the pepper and discard. Slit the pepper open, then cut away and discard the ribs and seeds. Remove the blackened skin with a small knife or your fingers. Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
Spread the bottom halves of the rolls with the goat cheese. Divide the eggplant slices among the rolls and top with the bell pepper strips. Season with salt and pepper. Lay 2 or 3 basil leaves on each sandwich. Cover with the top halves of the rolls. Cut each sandwich in half or into quarters. Arrange on individual plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).