Eggplant Sandwich

It’s almost that time of year where I take advantage of the harvest season. Fresh vegetables such as edible gourd (lauki), zucchini, eggplant or tomatoes are great choices to match up with various cheeses, herbs such as cilantro or basil, and one’s condiment(s) of choice. One of my family favorites is a pan-seared eggplant or tomato sandwich for lunch. Eggplant slices are dredged into sesame seasoned flour and topped with feta or mozzarella cheese on toasted or grilled sesame seed buns.

I’ve been growing eggplants for over 30 years and in many varieties including green, white, violet, and my favorite – Japanese eggplants, which I like to call my purple beauties. Freshly harvested produce has a very vibrant taste and texture and tastes so good that you really don’t even have to add any spices or seasonings, except some basic salt and black pepper. Nonetheless, one can season according to taste.

1 medium eggplant, washed and sliced into 8 ¾-1-inch thick rounds
1/4 teaspoon of each – salt and black pepper or to taste
1/2 cup sesame flour for dredging
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 sesame seed or whole-wheat buns, toasted on the grill
1 tomato, sliced and mozzarella cheese as needed

1) I prefer eggplant without any seeds for most of my eggplant recipes (always use without peeling the skin). Lightly season each eggplant slice with salt, black pepper and a generous pinch of granulated sugar. Set aside.
2) To prepare sesame flour for dredging (or simply use the whole sesame seeds): Combine 1/2 cup white sesame seeds and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a spice grinder. Grind until the mixture turns into a coarse meal. Empty in a mixing bowl and set aside.
3) Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and coat both sides of each eggplant slice with sesame flour. Carefully drop onto the heated oil and pan-fry, until crisp on both sides and lightly brown 6 to 8 minutes (or if you like lightly brush each eggplant slice with oil and place on a nonstick baking sheet and bake until both sides are browned and crisp). Drain on paper towels. Top each eggplant slice with the mozzarella cheese and tomato slices and serve on a toasted sesame bun with the condiments or dressing of your choice.

Note: This may be prepared as a gluten free dish by eliminating the whole-wheat buns.

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