I have a love-hate relationship with eggplant. I really want to love eggplant because it is so vibrantly beautiful. It taunts me with it's gorgeous shade of purple and makes me want to buy it. That and my two year old really seems to enjoy it. And on top of that, my husband actually loves it. That said, it's not really my favorite thing to cook with because if not cooked properly, it can become slimy and really, who wants to eat a slimy vegetable?
Anyway, this is an eggplant creation I can get on board with. So on board with it that we have actually had it twice in the last month. I even convinced our new roommate (who hasn't had eggplant before) to give it a shot and she said it was tasty. That must mean something. And, if that's not enough of a glowing recommendation for you, let it be known that this is a grilled cheese sandwich and anything smothered in melted cheese is automatically to die for. Even if you are not an eggplant lover, you should still try this one on for size. The crispy eggplant is a nice alternative to the gooey mozzarella.
This would be delicious with mushrooms or spinach added to it. Or bacon (because bacon makes everything better). Or avocado. Or jalepenos if you like a little kick. Honestly, I can't really think of anything that wouldn't be good on this sandwich, but at least with this, you'll have a starting point.
We made these (+bacon) for dinner on Valentine's Day, served with my favorite, bacon avocado salad. We were so full after dinner that we barely had room for dessert!
Eggplant Grilled Cheese
2 slices eggplant, approximately 1/3" in diameter
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 slices of bread (I use Dave's Killer Bread, my personal fav), buttered on one side
1/4 cup each cornmeal and breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp oil for frying
Crack egg into a bowl. Lightly scramble together the yolk and the white. Add a little water if necessary to help combine.
Combine breadcrumbs and cornmeal in a separate bowl. Set both bowls aside.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dredge eggplant in egg so that the entire piece of eggplant has been covered. Place eggplant in breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture and cover completely. Tap off excess breading. Place in frying pan when oil is hot. Repeat with second slice of eggplant.
Fry eggplant for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Flip and fry on the other side until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.
Remove oil from pan, but do not wipe the pan down. Return pan to stove and turn heat to medium-low. Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, in the pan. Top with cheese, both slices of eggplant, and the other slice of bread. Put a cover over your pan to help steam the sandwich. This will allow your cheese to melt without your bread burning. Cook until bread is cooked to your liking. Flip sandwich and replace cover, continuing to cook until cheese is melted and bread is crispy.