Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

My friend Allison came over to exchange Christmas gifts the other day, and I made her one of my specialty sandwiches. Yes, I said Christmas gifts. Yes, it is February. Yes, we are losers. If you want a meal that's light, satisfying, and makes you feel like you're in a restaurant, try these little beauties. Just one note: These are not date night sandwiches. They are messy, messy, messy, but they make up for it by being good, good, good.

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
8 (1/2-inch thick) eggplant slices
2 tsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper
4 slices ciabatta bread
2 tbsp. pesto
1/2 cup raw spinach
1/4 cup (2 oz.) soft goat cheese
Preheat broiler.
Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer in large pan, and brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and broil 4 minutes. Turn eggplant over, and broil 4 more minutes. To roast bell pepper, cut in half, remove membrane, and place in oven skin-up while eggplant cooks. Leave in 7 more minutes after removing eggplant, and place in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal, and let stand 15 minutes; peel and discard skin.
Broil bread slices about two minutes or until lightly browned. If you don't want the bread as crunchy, heat less or turn off the broiler.
Spread two slices of bread with goat cheese and pesto. Layer with eggplant, red pepper, and spinach. Top with the other slice of bread (surprise!), and enjoy the best sandwich of your life.

I have a lot more than 8 eggplant slices, but I figure if I'm going to cook eggplant, I'm going to cook all of it. Given that it's one of my favorite side dishes, I'm perfectly happy making a lot at once. This is the 7" Santoku Knife, and it is the best knife EVER for things like eggplant, butternut squash, large potatoes, and a lot of other things. I've got the Large Grooved Cutting Board laid over my sink, and that's the Large Bar Pan over the other half of the sink. I love when things work this way because it just means extra workspace for me.
Tip: See how I'm holding the eggplant by the top? Utilize this section of eggplant, squash, zucchini, etc. to save your fingers.

My oil is in a Pinch Bowl, and I'm using the Chef's Silicone Basting Brush to spread it over the eggplant slices. From one eggplant, I've got the Large Bar Pan and the Rectangle Stone covered. My red peppers are on the Small Bar Pan.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: When salt and pepper are the only seasonings you're using, make sure they're high quality. The Pampered Pantry is full of amazing products, and my favorites are the Coarse Sea & Himalayan Salt and the Peppercorn Medley. Filling my Bamboo Grinder Set with these means great flavor every time. Behind me, I've got the pesto in the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, and I'm going to spread it with the All-Purpose Spreader.

Ciabatta bread isn't the easiest to slice, but the 7" Santoku Knife makes it simple. The spinach is in the small bowl to the Colander & Bowl Set, one of my favorite items. All of the pieces nest together for easy storage, and lids are included.

Ready to arrange the sandwiches! Tell me, is this not a beautiful display? I love to eat by color, and this sandwich offers all kinds. Everything is laid out on the Large Grooved Cutting Board, and all I have to do is put it together. The goat cheese is in a 1-Cup Prep Bowl, and it's perfect because I can put a lid on any I don't use.
Allison highly approved these sandwiches, and she was surprised by how well all the flavors worked together. These can be changed to a beautiful appetizer as well. Think small French bread slices, goat cheese, pesto, small eggplant and red pepper slices on top... The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

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