Eggplant is one of the favorite vegetables in the Russian cuisine (yeah, yeah, it's not all about beets and cabbage). The most common way to cook it is Eggplant Caviar, which can also be canned and preserved for the winter. The second favorite way to cook eggplant, I would say, is to saute it in oil and then roll up into appetizer rolls with garlic and ground walnuts, or to stack slices of it with fresh tomatoes and mayo/garlic/dill sauce. It is very, very tasty, but also very, very fatty. Due to eggplant's spongy texture it absorbs a huge amount of oil. To make the dish more figure friendly I roasted the eggplant instead of frying.
I used the idea of garlicky eggplant in sandwiches. I am not a vegetarian, but sometimes it is nice to have a simple, meatless meal. And these - oh, I can eat BOTH of these sandwiches by myself.
I found these gorgeous dill blooms for sale at a farm not far from our house. Dill is the most popular herb in the Russian cuisine. (I still remember a pizza covered with a thick carpet of chopped dill, served to my American boss at a Russian restaurant... and the man hated dill!) Oftentimes I have trouble finding fresh dill in supermarkets. These remind me of my grandmother's vegetable garden, where they were plentiful in the summer. Their fragrance brings back memories of the slow days of summer, the sun, the break from school, doing nothing... being bored even. It's great to be a kid :).
Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches
For 2 sandwiches:
1 eggplant, cut across into 1/2 inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
4 slices sturdy crusty bread, toasted if desired
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Put 2 garlic cloves through a garlic press and spread over the eggplant slices. Roast until browned and soft, about 20 minutes. Cool on the sheet.
Press the remaining garlic clove though the garlic press and mix with mayonnaise and dill. Spread the mayo over 2 slices of bread, then stack eggplant and tomato slices on top. Season with sea salt and cover each sandwich with the remaining slice of bread. Serve.