Eggplant sandwich with smoked Gouda and roasted red pepper
- 1 eggplant, sliced to 1/3″ thick round slices; notch the skin around the diameter of each slice a few times
- 1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, and de-seeded
- enough Gouda slices, 1/8″ thick, to make a few sandwiches
- 3 Tbsp good quality mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, or more
- 1/4 cup or so plain breadcrumbs
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- handful baby arugula, chopped somewhat
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF and place the wire racks at the upper and second-from-lowest positions. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray lightly with an oil spray (I used olive oil flavored PAM) to prevent the eggplant from sticking fatally; alternatively, brush the sheets with olive oil.
- Mix together the mayo and smoked paprika. Add a dash of salt and stir the mayo mixture. Holding the rim of an eggplant slice, use a pastry brush to apply a bit of the spiced mayo on each side of the slice. You don’t need very much – you should be able to clearly see the eggplant through the mayo! Using a soup spoon, spoon the breadcrumbs onto both sides of the slice and shake off the excess. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with all slices, and reserve the remaining mayo for assembling the sandwiches.
- Put the filled baking sheets into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned (the tops of those on the upper sheet will brown and the bottom of those on the lower sheet will brown, so after flipping they will look the same). Using tongs or a fork, flip over the eggplant slices and bake for 10-15 minutes more. You want the eggplant cooked through, but not too soft so they fall apart. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the slices cool on the sheets for 5 minutes.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat; no oil in the pan is necessary. To assembly the sandwiches, lay one slice on a plate and add enough Gouda to make one layer. Place a bit of red pepper on top to make a solid layer, trimming the sides so it doesn’t hang over. Sprinkle this with salt, if desired, and a crack of freshly ground black pepper. Pile on a bit of arugula leaves. Taking a second slice of eggplant (the same size as the bottom slice, obviously), spread on a bit of the spiced mayo, to taste, and top the sandwich. Using a spatula, place as many sandwiches as will fit into the pan, cover, and heat for about 3 minutes – just until the cheese has melted. Remove with a spatula, carefully, and enjoy. (By the way, this is definitely not a “use your hands” sandwich – knife and fork required!)