Chef Ray: Grilled Eggplant and Mozzarella Sandwiches
2 firm eggplants, cut into ½-inch slices
Salt and pepper
ciabatta or other crusty rolls, split
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, one finely chopped and one halved, divided
Olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
Optional ingredients to add to tomato topping: chopped, pitted black olives, capers, anchovy fillets, red pepper flakes
8 slices Fior di Latte mozzarella cheese or buffalo mozzarella cheese
16-20 leaves fresh basil
Heat a grill to high, an oven to 500°F or an indoor grill pan over high heat.
Arrange the eggplant slices on a kitchen towel or paper towels, salt them and let drain 10 minutes, turning once
Combine the tomatoes with the onion and chopped garlic clove and dress lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add olives, anchovy fillets, capers and/or red pepper flakes, if using.
Brush the eggplant with olive oil on both sides, then cook to tender and browned, turning occasionally and basting with oil as needed, about 10 minutes on a grill or grill pan, 12-15 minutes in the oven. Once the eggplant slices are cooked, toast the rolls alongside the eggplant in the oven or char on the grill. Rub the charred rolls with the cut garlic clove and drizzle with oil.
To assemble the sandwiches, stack the eggplant with sliced mozzarella and basil leaves. Top with lots of raw tomato sauce and set the bun tops in place.