When I spotted this recipe while browsing this month’s Real Simple I was immediately intrigued. Eggplant in place of bread? Would that work? The first time I tasted fried eggplant was during a hot summer visiting family friends on a farm in Pilger, Nebraska when I was 16. That ended with a spontaneous road trip to Sturgis, SD. But I digress. If memory serves it was paired with a healthy helping of fried green tomatoes. It was love at first taste.
I modified the recipe a bit – I thought it needed a spread (mainly to keep the feta cheese intact). My new summer go-to recipe. And it was a family hit! With the exception of Hadley, who preferred to lick the hummus off the eggplant and eat the cheese and tomatoes as separate courses while squeezing the eggplant between her fingers. The crispness of the eggplant makes this a utensil-free meal. Although with Miss Hadley, every meal seems to be fork optional these days.
Summer Eggplant Sandwich
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 medium eggplant (1 to 1/2 pounds) cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
Red or green leaf lettuce
2 medium tomatoes (juicy heirlooms from the farmer’s market or your backyard are best)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
4 ounces fresh feta or goat cheese, crumbled
Hummus – I used King Harvest Lemon Hummus, providing a tangy balance
- Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip the eggplant slices in the flour, followed by the eggs (let any excess drip off) and finally the bread crumbs, pressing down to help them adhere.
- Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook half the eggplant until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining oil and eggplant. Sprinkle hot eggplant with salt and pepper to taste.
- Layer the eggplant, lettuce, tomatoes, basil, goat cheese and hummus to form four sandwiches.