Three Summer Reds for a Cold Eggplant Sandwich

I am a lover of eggplant, but I have not found it easy to make myself. Either it absorbs so much oil in cooking that it is saturated or there is an unpleasant bitterness to the seeds and pulp that makes it inedible (similar to the over the top acid one sometimes experiences with pineapple).  After consulting with some seasoned cooks, I was told that to avoid the stinging sensation one must cook eggplant extremely fresh. So, I began to buy it only on the day or the day before I planned to cook it.

Dilemma two—Eggplant, like mushrooms, soaks up oil like a sponge, so how to avoid the unappealing dripping with oil? One answer was provided to me while on a trip to Greece last June—if anybody knows eggplants, I figured it would be a Greek cook, so I asked the first Greek woman I met who loved to cook. She said to simply wash and poke holes in the whole eggplant and roast under a broiler until soft inside. Then scrape out the insides and make a spread or dip.

The finished product

My version, because I like the sweetness of caramelized vegetables, is to slice the eggplant lengthwise and generously rub the cut side with olive oil and then place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 400° until a knife test shows that the pulp is soft all the way through. Scrape pulp out of the skins into a bowl using a large soupspoon and place in the frig to chill.

Next wash and cut 8 or so whole parsley leaves with a bit of stem left on and dry on a paper towel. Toast a slice of your favorite bread—I use a chewy, nutty-tasting whole grain.  Spread the eggplant on the bread* and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Also, sprinkle on 3 or 4 drops balsamic vinegar. Next liberally crumble a high quality feta cheese (like Mt Vikos — these are creamier styles) on top of the eggplant. Next garnish the top with the crunchy parsley and serve open face!

*Another option is to spread a roasted garlic clove or two on the bread before you put on the eggplant.

Here are 3 refreshing reds to pair with the eggplant sandwich:

2008 Chateau des Tours Brouilly
2008 Jelu Pinot Noir
2005 Domaine Gouron Chinon Cabernet Franc

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