Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

It’s National Vegetarian Week. While I’m not a vegetarian, I definitely see the health and financial benefits of following the diet. My family follows a flexitarian diet: mostly vegetarian meals but meat occasionally. We all know that fruits and veggies are good for us. But since drastically reducing our meat intake, our food budget has also been helped a lot.

However, this weekend is Memorial Day and the opening of grilling season. Hot of the grill burgers, ribs, steaks, and just about any other meat are delicious. But grilled veggies can be amazing, too. I loved this grilled eggplant sandwich. Very filling and satisfying, and I felt good after eating it. Even my carnivore husband was raving about the peanut butter sauce. If you are more of a carnivore, the toppings for this sandwich would be good on a burger, too.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches (serves 4-5)

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1/2 cup white or rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups julienne carrots
1/3 cup chopped green onions, divided
1 medium eggplant
1 small onion, sliced
1 jalapeño pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
dash sriracha
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 loaf whole wheat French bread, cut in half horizontally
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1 cup fresh cilantro

1. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, carrots, and about 2 tablespoons of green onions in a small bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Let stand for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain liquid before using.

2. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush eggplant slices, onion slices, and jalapeno with canola oil. Grill eggplant and onions for 7 minutes, or until tender, turning once. Rotate jalapeno 4 times during grilling, turning when skin begins to char.

3. Combine peanut butter, remaining green onions, ginger, soy sauce, sriracha, garlic, and lime juice in a bowl. Stir well to combine.

4. Hollow out bottom half of bread. Place bread on grill, cooking until golden brown.

5. Spread peanut butter sauce over bottom half of bread. Arrange eggplant, grilled onions, cucumber, and carrots on bread. Slice grilled jalapeno. Sprinkle jalapeno slices and cilantro over top. Place top half of bread on sandwich. Cut into 4-5 equal pieces.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving with 4 servings):

Calories: 582
Protein: 17 g
Fat: 22 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 84 g
Fiber: 15 g
Sodium: 777 mg

Recipe Notes: I left my carrots in the vinegar mixture about 20 minutes. When I do it again, I will leave them a little longer. I would have preferred them a little softer and a little more “pickled”. If you want them super crunchy or not very acidic, then shorter is better. We like spicy food. If you are worried about heat, you could omit the sriracha or put less jalapeno on the sandwich. I made lengthwise slices of cucumber to mimic the eggplant slices, but regular slices would work, too.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Low-iodine adjustment:  Use non-iodized salt.  Use salt free peanut butter.  Eliminate the soy sauce and sriracha, adding water to thin out the peanut butter sauce as needed.

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