Eggplant & Prosciutto Sandwich

The sandwich I'm sharing today is one of my favorite sandwiches ever. I'm almost afraid to hype it up because if you think it looks unappetizing and respond negatively, my feelings will be hurt. That's how much I like it. But I'm being brave and saying that this sandwich is so awesome that I sometimes burst into tears of joy when I think about it.

As you know, I went to a fresh mozzarella making class. So, for a few days there were two giant lumpy balls of cheese sitting in our fridge and I could hear them asking, begging, pleading to be used in an amazing sandwich and so I granted them their wish. This is a slightly labor intensive sandwich if you make the mozzarella, breaded eggplant, and roasted peppers from scratch. Luckily, ready-made versions of these elements are readily available in most stores so no need to shy away, okay? It's totally okay to take some store help if you need to.
breaded eggplant
1 medium sized eggplant
½ cup flour
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
oil for pan frying

1 loaf Italian bread (crusty exterior, fluffy interior)
8 to 10 breaded eggplant slices
¼ lb prosciutto di parma
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 to 3 roasted peppers
handful of arugula (rocket)
balsamic vinegar
+ chips (I recommend kettle cooked chips seasoned with salt and black pepper)

Let's start with the breaded eggplant.

The first step is to get your breading station ready. Get three dishes and put flour in the first, beat the eggs with a little salt and pepper in the second, and fill the third with some breadcrumbs. Then, slice up the eggplant into ¼" thick slices. I like to cut the eggplant into rounds but you can also cut it lengthwise if that's what you prefer. Also, if you're not a fan of eggplant skin, you can certainly peel it before you slice it. Personally, I think the skin looks nice.

If you can find baby eggplants or nemo eggplants, I would suggest using those over regular eggplant because both those varieties are more tender and have fewer seeds than classic Italian eggplant. When you're choosing your eggplant at the store, make sure it's firm - give it a good squeeze with the type of pressure you might apply to confirm if you've got a bruise - and that the skin is free of any major blemishes (indents, bruises, etc.)
Dust the eggplant pieces in flour, then dip them in egg, and then press them into the breadcrumbs. Get yourself a little assembly line to speed up the process. I recommend dipping all of the eggplant pieces in the flour mixture first. Then, take the pile of floured pieces and dip in the egg and breadcrumbs. You can't dip them all in the egg at once because they'll go all gummy before you get a chance to crumb 'em up.
Cook the eggplant pieces in a little bit of oil until they're lovely and golden and crisp on both sides. It'll take about 3 minutes per side over a medium heat. And unless you have the world's biggest frying pan, you'll have to do this in batches. Place the finished pieces onto a paper towel to wick away the excess oil.
Grate some parmesan cheese and sprinkle just a little bit onto each piece of eggplant as soon as it comes out of the pan. Since the eggplant will still be quite hot, the cheese will fuse itself to the breading, which is awesome.
Don't these look delicious? You can use these to make eggplant parm sandwiches but that's a recipe for another day. Scroll down for today's sandwich creation.
I went to an amazing Italian bakery to pick up some delicious prosciutto di parma and fresh brick oven baked bread. Prosciutto di parma is kind of chewier and stretchier than domestic prosciutto and it's made with the leftover whey from parmesan cheese making so it's got a ton of flavor.
How gorgeous is this bread? I should have recorded that lovely "crshh" sound of the bread being gently squeezed and the "kwee" of the knife slicing through the crust and then I should have used the sound bites to make the best ringtone ever. I would title the clip "I Knead Bread." HAHAHA! I'm hilarious!
Slice open the bread - as you can see I cut that long loaf in half to make it easier to work with - and then layer on some prosciutto, then the cheese, the roasted peppers, eggplant, and then a good handful of arugula. Now, sandwich making is an art and most of the time, I'd discourage people from lining up two slimy ingredients adjacent to one another, like the cheese and the roasted peppers. However, in this case, all of the ingredients are pretty squishy and there won't be much struggle between teeth and 'wich so the slip 'n slide effect is already reduced. Anyway, it just looks nicer to have the lovely, soft, white mozzarella squished between the pink prosciutto and the red/orange/yellow peppers. It looks cute.
Drizzle the sandwich with a good amount of delicious balsamic vinegar. I used a fig balsamic vinegar because it's got an added sweetness that I love and that I think contrasts the peppery arugula nicely. But, whatever balsamic you like is fine. Then, all that's left to do is to close up the sandwich, slice it into normal human-sized portions (or hungry human-sized portions if everyone's got a monstrous appetite) and dig in.
Serve the sandwich with a pile of chips - I love the crunch of kettle cooked (the black pepper ones are amazing) but chip preferences vary so pick your own - and enjoy. There's such an amazing array of textures and flavors in this sandwich. The prosciutto is meaty, salty, and chewy; the fresh mozzarella is creamy and soft and milky; the roasted peppers are sweet and smoky and soft; the eggplant is crispy and tender; the arugula is fresh and peppery; the balsamic is fruity and tart; and it's all squished between to amazing pieces of chewy, crunchy, delicious bread. I don't think lunch time gets any better than this, does it?
Here are the recipe pages for both the breaded eggplant and the sandwich:


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