Well it's been a while since my last post and I have no excuse. So here it goes...
I love this recipe so much. It is a blend of flavours and textures that I have not found anywhere else, let alone in a vegetarian sandwich that even my meat-centric friends have loved. It was even recently featured for a few days at a local grab-and-go eatery!
The only issue with this recipe is that it does take time and preparation to put it all together... but I guarantee that it is worth all of the effort. Give it a shot and let me know how it works out for you!
Grilled Marinated Eggplant
*serves 4-8 depending on how big/small you make the sandwiches
2 large eggplants
Himalayan or sea salt
1 package halloumi cheese
2-3 sweet peppers (whichever colour you want)
Reduced balsamic vinegar (I prefer the pre-packaged variety)
Pesto (homemade or store bought)
Veganaise (or your favourite mayonnaise of choice)
Chef Yatu Ethiopian Spice Paste – Medium (available at Sunterra grocery – or just use any spice paste blend that you like)
**Again... this process has a lot of steps so it is really important to read this through completely and be prepared for it to all come together. It’s worth it, I promise you! **
Slice eggplant lengthwise in to 1 – 2 cm thick strips. Salt both sides and rub lightly to start the naturally bitter eggplant water extraction and lay the slices in a shallow but wide container (I use glass Pyrex dishes) while preparing the marinade and rest of ingredients:
Using a clean dishtowel (let’s use less paper towels, k?!?), lightly rub off excess salt from eggplant, rinse and dry the container, and place eggplant back in to the dish.
Coat eggplant slices completely with marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (up to 8 hours for extra great results). Rotating slices whenever you think about it (or every other hour or so).
About a half hour before grilling, remove the marinating eggplant from fridge rotating slices in marinade one more time.
Start BBQ and place prepared peppers on grill while pre-heating the grill to low-medium-ish heat turning once to get that slightly charred look. Remove peppers from the grill, place in small bowl and cover with plate. This will help soften them a little bit more while cooling slightly.
Now it is time to grill the eggplant slices!
Using tongs, gently lift the each slice out of marinade, letting excess marinade run off and place slices on the grill. Add lime juice to remaining marinade and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Grill slices over low heat for 5-8 minutes on each side until cooked through (they sometimes puff out a little bit – that’s a good sign to indicate that they are for sure cooked through!). Place cooked eggplant back in to the reserved marinade and rotate to get them saucy again.
While eggplant is grilling place sliced halloumi directly on grill but with the burners off underneath. Or, better yet, pan-fry the slices separately which can be much easier to control the heat for the semi-melty cheese and therefore result in much less cooking stress. Although, you will need a second person to help do this while watching the grill if you don’t have a side burner. However you tackle this step, the cheese is "done" when the surface is slightly browned on both sides and removed from the pan/bbq on to a plate.
Once all the grilling is complete is time to assemble the sandwich!!
Peppers - cut peppers in to strips, drizzle with a bit (a heaping teaspoon or so) of reduced balsamic vinegar and gently toss to coat.
Greens – use a few teaspoons of the eggplant marinade to lightly dress the greens.
Eggplant - remove a slice of eggplant from the post-bbq marinade and slice to fit your bun.
On the bottom half of the bun spread the Veganaise/spice paste mixture and on the top half bun spread the pesto.
Now to layer, starting from the bottom bun: eggplant, grilled peppers, halloumi, dressed mixed greens and finally the top bun!
Eat and be happy!