One of the ways I’ve found vegetarian recipes is by searching for a food I like and putting “vegetarian” in front of it. That’s how I found what formed the basis of tonight’s grilled eggplant sandwiches.
I decided to see if there was a veggie substitute for a Cubano sandwich. A Cubano is basically a pulled pork sandwich topped with a slice of ham. But since there are so may variations of pulled pork, there are as many ways to make a Cubano, unlike a Reuben.
I found several vegetarian iterations for a Cubano. The one that looked best to me called for portabella mushrooms. But they were $6/lb at the store, a little pricey. So I called an audible in the produce section and decided on eggplant, with sliced mushrooms as garnish. They were delicious. Here’s the recipe as I made it.
One eggplant, peeled and sliced about 1/2″ thick
Two cloves garlic, finely chopped
One red onion, sliced thin
One green pepper and one red pepper, cut into strips
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Large dill pickles sliced lengthwise into thin strips (optional)
Four Tbs. butter, divided
Thick bread such as sourdough, ciabatta, French or other
2 Tbs. sour cream
2 Tbs. stone ground mustard
Saute the eggplant in part of the butter. When cooked but still firm, remove from heat and put on a plate. Add more butter to the pan and the garlic, onions, mushrooms and peppers. Cook until crisp tender. Mix the sour cream and mustard together. Spread on one slice of bread. Place the eggplant in a single layer on the bread. Put slices of Swiss cheese on top of eggplant. When the other vegetables are done, divide them onto the bread slices. Top with a slice of dill pickle. Put the other slice of bread on top.
Add remaining butter to the grill. Put the sandwiches on the grill and put a heavy skillet, weighted pan or something else to press the sandwiches against the grill. You can use a spatula, moving from sandwich to sandwich. Cook until one side of the sandwich is browned, 3-5 minutes. Remove sandwiches and re-butter the pan. Carefully turn the sandwiches over and repeat until the other side is done. Remove and serve immediately.
Pressing the sandwiches is optional but it forces the ingredients together and the juice out of the pickle so the flavor infuses the sandwich. I wouldn’t skip that step. Also, though the pickles are optional, they add flavor and to me this sandwich without the pickle would be a like a Reuben without sauerkraut.
I highly recommend this recipe. As I look back on it, I think the eggplant was an improvement over the portabella mushrooms.