It all starts with the Ichiban eggplant from my garden. Thanks to my mother who always grew this type of eggplant and made sure I knew about it. She insisted on going to Russell Feed Store in Benbrook every March to buy their plants. The last few years she lived with me she sent me to look for the eggplants in the spring. A couple months before she died I bought the eggplant transplants and put them in the garden. There was a special recipe I used to make for her with fried eggplant and a miso/soy marinade. I brought her some of this when she was in the hospital before she died and she really enjoyed it. Although I was never a gardener before I started seriously trying to grow things after her death mainly because I missed her and knew she would have been so happy to see me love gardening. Without my husband, though, I wouldn’t be so successful. He has a lot of experience and is a very knowledgeable gardener.
Now every year I grow the eggplant and many of the other things my mother liked such as Japanese cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. I like to prepare the eggplant very simply, just grilling it or stir-frying. I love eggplant lasagna too. For the farmers market I made the eggplant sandwich. I was so pleased to use many vegetables from the garden for this recipe, including the tomato, bell pepper, red onion, and herbs.
The combination of the nutty eggplant, sweet tomato, onion and creamy dressing will wake up your taste buds and you won’t even miss the meat. This was a delicious sandwich and a nice summer dinner. I used focaccia bread but a whole wheat bun or any sandwich bread can be used. You could also skip the bread and stack all the ingredients up and call it a napoleon.
Recipe:
4 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh basil and oregano
fresh sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
3 Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 ” thick planks
1 large red bell pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
red onion, sliced
fresh tomato, sliced
Garlic aioli (recipe below)
Toasted bakery bun, focaccia bread or desired bread
Mix olive oil and seasonings, brush eggplant and peppers with mixture and grill for 3 minutes per side ( or until tender). Place mozzarella cheese slice on eggplant to melt slightly.
Cut pepper into strips. Assemble sandwich with Garlic aioli, slices of eggplant, red onion and tomato.
Garlic aioli:
I prefer not to use raw eggs so I am using mayonnaise instead.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Mix together