Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with Aïoli

By: Georgeanne Brennan

Ingredients

2 large of eggplants
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of mixed fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary, and thyme
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
6 chewy rolls
12 green lead or red leaf lettuce leaves   

For the Aïoli:   

3 to 5 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
3 egg yolks at room temperature
1/3 cup of grapeseed or other mild oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Trim the eggplants and cut them crosswise into slices about 3/8 inch thick. You should have 12 slices in all. Combine the olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Add the eggplant slices and turn to coat. Let marinate 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
  2. Slit the rolls in half lengthwise and set aside.
  3. To make the aïoli, combine the grapeseed oil with 1/3 of the olive oil. In a small bowl, pound the garlic cloves and salt together with a pestle and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk.
  4. Very, very slowly drizzle in about 1/2 teaspoon at a time of the oil mixture, gently whisking it into the egg yolks. Repeat this until a thick emulsion has formed. Once the emulsion has formed, continue whisking in the oil, about 1 teaspoon at a time until all the mixture is thick and most or all of the oil has been incorporated. If needed, whisk in a little more of the olive oil, if the emulsion will hold it. Gently stir in the garlic and salt mixture. Season a little with pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  5. Prepare a charcoal or wood fire in a barbeque or preheat a gas grill. When the coals are ready, arrange the eggplant slices on the grill rack and grill until golden brown and a crust has formed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and grill the other side until golden, another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove. In inclement weather, eggplant is equally delicious cooked on your stove top with a grill pan.
  6. To make the sandwiches, spread each roll half with some of the aïoli, top the bottom halves of the rolls with two slices each of grilled eggplant and two leaves of lettuce, then top with the other half of the roll.