It’s #vegetarian awareness week! The Clean Food Club is celebrating by making veggie meals all week using fresh, in-season produce from the farm. National Vegetarian Awareness Month isn’t until October (oddly), so this way you’ll have plenty of time to practice your #meatlessmonday recipes til then.
Gina Homolka, in her cookbook The Skinnytaste Cookbook, makes a Grilled Zucchini and Eggplant Sandwich with Basil Mayo Pesto, and it has unbelievable flavor. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on the veggies and the bread, grill to get a nice char on each side, assemble and top with fresh tomato and a tablespoon of basil pesto, and it’s so yummy. Zucchini and eggplant are both in season right now, and we also baked zucchini sticks to go with it. I didn’t follow her recipes exactly, I find that I always adapt recipes to fit my own tastes. I did the same when I made her Panzanella Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil. Feel free to do the same when you try this at home!
Grilled Zucchini and Eggplant Sandwich with Basil Mayo Pesto and Baked Zucchini Sticks
Makes 3 large sandwiches and a lot of sticks
Total time: 60 minutes
In My Basket
1 large Eggplant (from Stearns Farm, Framingham MA)
2 large Zucchini (from Stearns Farm, Framingham MA)
1 large Tomato (from Stearns Farm, Framingham MA)
1 loaf Ciabatta bread (from Birchtree Bread Company, Worcester MA)
3 cups Homemade Bread Crumbs (made from leftover bread from Birchtree Bread Co)
5 large Egg whites (from Chestnut Farms, Hardwick MA)
2 cups fresh Basil (from Stearns Farm, Framingham MA)
1 clove Garlic (from Stearns Farm, Framingham MA)
1 cup Olive Oil (from Fiore, Bar Harbor ME)
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar (from Fiore, Bar Harbor ME)
From the Pantry
2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sticks:
- Preheat oven to 425. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Wash and dry zucchini, then slice one of the zucchini in half lengthwise and widthwise. Cut into 4 inch sticks (will make about 60 sticks).
- In a small bowl, break the egg whites and season with salt and pepper to taste. In a second small bowl, combine 1 cup bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan.
- Dip one zucchini stick at a time into the egg mixture first and then into the bread crumb mixture. Toss to coat, and then place on the covered baking sheet. Repeat until about 1/3 of sticks are coated, or until the bread crumb mixture has gotten too sticky. (Constant dipping of the egg white mixture into the bread crumbs will make it sticky and it will clump together). When this happens, toss out the remaining bread crumbs in the bowl, wipe the bowl, then add fresh bread crumbs and parmesan into the bowl. Repeat until all sticks are coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake until golden brown on the outside and tender to the touch, about 25 minutes.
For the sandwiches:
- While the zucchini sticks cook, light your charcoal grill, or preheat to medium. Wash and dry all fresh produce. Slice the second zucchini and the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Cut the tomato into thin slices. Slice the bread.
- Place the sliced eggplant and zucchini onto the baking sheets in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the sliced bread with olive oil, place on the baking sheets.
- Grill the vegetables until lightly browned on each side, about 5 minutes on each side. Toast the bread until golden browned, just a couple minutes on each side.
- Transfer the finished vegetables and bread on a serving platter, set aside.
For the pesto:
In a blender, combine the basil, garlic, parmesan, and pepper to taste. Pulse until smooth, add the mayo, pulse until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside.
To plate, assemble sandwiches with grilled eggplant and zucchini, top with fresh tomato slices and a tablespoon of pesto. Serve with the zucchini sticks. Enjoy!
Alice Kathryn Richardson is a new media photojournalist and creator of The Clean Food Club. She previously spent two years working on Deserts in the District, a series of short-form documentaries exploring food access and hunger in Washington, DC. Follow her on Twitter @AKR_Pictures.