Did someone say open-faced sandwich? I'm in. I am a complete sucker for the things. Not only are they so much more beautiful and enticing than the typical sandwich, but the flavors and textures of the contents are allowed to stand out in all their glory, rather than live a life of oppression by bread. Don't get me wrong...I love a good sandwich as much as the next person for reasons of practicality and variety, mainly. But these beauties steal my heart any day of the week. Throw eggplant, smoked gouda and tomatoes into the mix and it's a party in your mouth.
So last night, when we were standing around wondering what to do with the eggplant I picked up at the store (not the easiest vegetable to plan a mean around), and we needed something quick and easy - voila! Open-faced grilled eggplant sandwiches sounded perfect. And they were. Dan made a quick run to Seaside Market and called to tell me what the bread options were. I was hoping for a rustic, country-style loaf, but in that way that life has of surprising you with something even better than what you had in mind, I decided on the black olive when presented with the options. Now I'm normally not a black olive kind of person; in fact, I'm a bit of an olive snob (gasp!). But, I was intrigued since we were going for smoky gouda smothered eggplant slices with tomatoes and parsley and it sounded like it might be a fit. I took the chance - and it payed off. The flavor combination was superb!
During the summer, we would have grilled these on an actual grill, but since we've had 8 INCHES OF RAIN IN SAN DIEGO THIS WEEK, our ridged grill pan and broiler fit the bill.
2 cups tomatoes on the vine, chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon saltsmoked gouda, thinly sliced
4 slices country-style bread (from a fresh loaf)
1 eggplant (sliced lengthwise into 1/2" slices)
Heat grill (or grill pan) over medium heat. While grill is heating, stir together tomatoes, parsley, 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
With a cheese plane or vegetable peeler, shave cheese into thin slices.
Brush bread on both sides with 1 tablespoon oil per slice.
Trim off top and bottom of each eggplant, then cut 4 slices lengthwise from center eggplant. Brush sides with 3 tablespoons oil (total) and sprinkle with remaining salt.
Lightly oil grill rack, then grill eggplant slices, turning occasionally to avoid overbrowning, until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. While eggplant is grilling, grill bread, turning over once, until grill marks form, 1 to 2 minutes total, and transfer to a large platter.
Transfer eggplant to platter, then top evenly with sliced cheese and return to grill and cook, covered until cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute. Arrange eggplant slices over bread. Then spoon the tomato mixture over the top.
Makes 2-4 servings.
Inspired by recipe from Gourmet, May 2006.