Sandwich of the Week: The Art of an Eggplant Sandwich
Dish: Eggplant Sandwich with Spinach, Pickled Onions, and Yogurt Sauce
Cooking in college can often be bothersome. Perhaps you arrive your first year a bright-eyed freshman only to discover that a microwave will be your only cooking companion for the year ahead. Perhaps you finally find yourself in a small apartment with a real oven only to discover that it too, like your messy roommate, has a mind of its own. Maybe you’re shocked to realize that your signature olive-oil saffron cake costs as much to make as your biology textbook. The list goes on.
My biggest bother cooking in college, though, is when my peers begin to over-intellectualize food and cooking.
“Is cuisine a social construct?” they might say.
Oh no, I think, here we go.
Or, “Is cooking an art or a craft?” a friend might question after spending some quality time with his modernist theory textbook.
“I don’t care what it is,” I respond, “as long as it tastes good when I eat it.”
And while I like to stay as far away from that debate as possible, there is one instance in which I feel strongly about it. And it has to do with sandwiches.
Sandwich-making, my friends, is an art.
I began feeling strongly about this last year when my roommate and I started making and selling sandwiches at the Wesleyan Farmer’s Market. Brewing up ideas for our first creation, we had no idea the time and thought, preparation, careful layering of ingredients, and attention to detail that would go into making a supremely delicious sandwich. Indeed, it was an art on the highest level.
And so came to be our first sandwich, an eggplant affair touched with garlicky, lemony, fennel-spiced yogurt, fresh baby spinach and a few pickled red onions, all on a baguette so good we actually agreed with the baker when he boasted “this is the best bread this side of the Atlantic.”
And sure, we’re no Picasso or Monet (yet), but we at least like to think they would have enjoyed eating one of our sandwiches.
Will Levitt is a senior at Wesleyan University, where he writes about food, knows his way around his tiny kitchen blind, and has recently come to terms with the fact that he is a mayonnaise addict. He blogs about college, cooking and the art of sandwich making – among other things – at his blog Dorm Room Dinner.
Eggplant Sandwich with Spinach, Pickled Onions and Yogurt Sauce
Makes 3 sandwiches
about 1 cup olive oil, for frying, plus 4 tablespoons
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clove garlic, finely minced or smashed
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 recipe pickled onions
Heat a large saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the olive oil and allow to heat. Working in rounds, saute the eggplant in a single layer for 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through and browned. Remove to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil to the pan and continue sautéing the eggplant until it is all cooked. Set aside.
To make the yogurt sauce, in a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, fennel seeds, chili powder, salt, pepper and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil.
To assemble, cut the baguette into thirds and cut each in half lengthwise. Evenly divide the cooked eggplant among each third. Spread on top of the eggplant a few tablespoons of the yogurt sauce, and top with the spinach and 5-6 rings of pickled onions. Eat at once.
Recipe Index Keywords:Categories: Blog, Campus Cooking, Eating, and Recipes.
Cooking Method: On the Stove.
I'm Cooking For...: Easy Dinner and Picnic.
Type of Food: Sandwiches.
I Don't Eat: Meat.