A big, fat, juicy hamburger with bacon, cheese and caramelized onions is pretty darn close to heaven for me. I’ll take that deal all day, everyday. No complaints.
BUT that doesn’t mean that I can’t get equally excited about some vegetarian sandwich options.
I think that’s what some folks like to call “balance”.
Enter stage left: Baked Eggplant and Zucchini Sandwiches with Avocado Aioli. These babies definitely have the ability to get my carnivorous motor running!
Eggplant can be kind of scary sometimes. It’s more often than not prepared in a way that has it coming out soggy, chewy and greasy. Um…no thanks. I like to slice mine thin, coat the slices in a light breading and then bake them in the oven. They turn out slightly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. And wouldn’t you know it, this method works great for zucchini as well!
And instead of mayonnaise on my sandwich (which you all must know by now that I don’t like), I whipped up an aioli-like spread using avocado, greek yogurt, garlic and cilantro. It gives these sandwiches the perfect amount of zip (and hint: it’s great on a burger or turkey sandwich as well!).
For you gardeners out there, my Baked Eggplant and Zucchini Sandwiches with Avocado Aioli are a great way to use up your late summer vegetables. I hope you try them out – even if you’re a carnivore!
Baked Eggplant and Zucchini Sandwiches with Avocado Aioli
- For the Sandwiches
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 medium-large zucchini
- 1-2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 to 2 tomatoes, sliced
- Pita-pocket bread (4 to 6 pieces)
- For the Avocado Aioli
- 1 avocado
- 6 ounces Greek yogurt
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- Slice the eggplant and zucchini into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick rounds. Lay a few sheets of paper towels down on your counter top. Spread the eggplant and zucchini rounds out over the paper towels in a single layer. Sprinkle each round with a little salt. Flip the rounds over and sprinkle the second side with a little more salt. Lay a few more sheets of paper towels on top of the rounds and gently press down so that the paper towels make contact with the surface of the rounds. Let them sit for about 15 minutes to release some of their water.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Make the crust mixture. Combine the Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan, cumin, paprika, garlic salt and black pepper in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs. Set aside.
- After your eggplant and zucchini rounds have released some of their water, remove and discard the top layer of paper towels. Working with a couple rounds at a time, first dip them rounds in the beaten eggs and then in the crust mixture, making sure to coat both sides evenly with the crust mixture. Transfer the coated rounds to your parchment paper lined baking sheets. Continue with the remaining rounds until they are all coated.
- Transfer the coated eggplant and zucchini to your pre-heated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden and starting to crisp up on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, make the avocado aioli. Slice the avocado in half and remove and discard the seed. Scoop out the flesh and at it to the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment along with all of the other ingredients. Process until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a small airtight container and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the avocado aioli into each pita-pocket half. Stuff in a couple slices of the baked eggplant and zucchini, cutting them to fit if necessary. Add a few slices of tomato. Enjoy immediately.
- Any leftover eggplant and zucchini rounds can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 2 days. The avocado aioli can be stored for up to 1 day.