Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches and Crispy Kale

by Fresh and Frugal

Eggplant needed another chance.  I know there’s more in there somewhere. More flavor, more texture, something that will not ever result in an icky, gloppy mess. Well, this wasn’t that dish. My eggplant did not shine through the rest of the veggies. After it came off the ‘grill’, I realized that and changed the toppings, and you know what? I’m okay with that. No, I endorse that. Eggplant is slowly but surely becoming my chicken of the meat-like but meatless world. Yeah, you heard me.

Let’s be clear: there was no gloppy mess, but there was no real lip-smacking on the part of the eggplant. They came out in nearly-picturesque little coins, tender little black marks on either side, looking more to me like a nice grilled burger than a slice of veggie. I feel like I could really use a heavy dose of veggies today, and I can just picture my friend Liz, from university in Canterbury, fixing herself a smoothie and talking about the ‘5-a-day’, ticking off what she’d eaten that counts for that 5. I think I’ve crammed all 5 of my daily dose onto this one plate.

Alright, I don’t want to hear it. Yes, I’m using a mini George Foreman Grill, and no, I’m not ashamed of it. Okay, maybe mildly ashamed. The fact of the matter is, that without yard nor grill nor money with which to buy a grill, I’m reduced to using this little handy fellow. This must be the first time I’ve used him since my parents gave him to me during my sophomore year of undergrad (whoa, that’s 4 years now), and I’m sort of wondering why I haven’t tried this sooner. There’s a grillfest coming. I can feel it.

Back to what really matters, here. Not only does this eggplant, roughly tossed with a quick drizzle of olive oil, rock as a meat-substitute for something big and hunky and perfect for sandwiches, but what goes with it is another perfect substitute: crispy kale instead of plain potato chips. Okay, lets think about it: plain/original potato chips taste like what? Salt salt salt and vaguely of oil. Maybe a little potato in there. Crispy kale tastes like what? SALT SALT SALT! A little woody like oil, and greeny-leafy. You know what I mean — it tastes of chlorophyl-y goodness. What’s better than SALT SALT SALT nature nature? Nothing, that’s what. And it’s so easy, I got the hang of it my first time around. This is actually the 5th time I’ve made it, since acquiring the ‘recipe’.

Roasted Eggplant Sandwich

1 small eggplant, washed and sliced into 1/4″ coins

2 large mushrooms, sliced thickly

1/2 thin young leek

1/2 large tomato

1 handful fresh chives

1 fair-sized ciabatta roll

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mayo

1 tsp spicy dijon mustard

sprinkling of salt

Heat the grill. Toss the sliced pieces of eggplant, mushrooms, and leeks in the olive oil to coat, then drop them on the grill (Foreman or not), until cooked through, with lovely grill-lines.

Cut the roll in half, and spread on the mayo and mustard. Chop off the amount of chives you like, and cut yourself a few big slices of tomato.

When thoroughly cooked, transfer the grilled eggplant and mushroom to the sandwich. Top with the tomato slices, then chives, then grilled leeks. Close it up and enjoy.

Crispy Kale

1 large bunch of clean kale

1-2 tbsp olive oil

sprinkling of coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

Roughly chop or tear (I love tearing greens) the Kale and deposit into a bowl. Drill the oil over the top, toss to lightly coat the leaves.

Pour it onto an aluminum-lined baking sheet. DON’T ADD THE SALT YET! If you bake it, it’ll make the kale soggy and icky. Well, soggy and WHOA salty. Pop it into the oven for 10-20 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t burn the top of it or it’ll just taste like burnt icky.

Finally, when it’s finished baking, pull it out and dust it with coarse salt. There you go. Salty, crunchy treat. Enjoy!