I know it’s not the season to be barbecuing, but I have been craving a good grilled vegetable sandwich for some time and since the weather was unseasonably warm on boxing day (in the pluses – do you believe it??), we took full advantage. If you aren’t so lucky in your part of the world, you may roast the vegetables in the oven (red pepper whole and eggplant sliced and roasted on a baking sheet).
I have a few simple rules for making sandwiches: always balance the warm with something cold and fresh, always include something marinaded, and always enhance with a condiment, sauce, or spread of some sort.
I love everything about this sandwich, so many robust flavours that stand out, but meld so beautifully together. The black olive tapenade, roasted red pepper, and parmesan cheese are each bold on their own and in their own right, but team up for an explosion of flavours that are tied together by the creaminess of the eggplant and hint of vinegar from the marinated mushrooms. The Romaine lettuce adds a crispness, lightness, and freshness to these wintry, filling, loud flavours.
Roasted/grilled vegetables take any sandwich from ordinary to extraordinary, but what makes this sandwich extra special is the parmesan cheese. Perhaps its the culture, but my husband always marvels at how I can eat chunks of parmesan cheese on their own or for an even more heavenly treat with thick slices of ciabatta. Parmesan is often used grated and as a taste enhancer, almost like a seasoning. It’s there and you can’t miss it, but usually as a helper, not a main attraction. In this sandwich, it shares the starring role with the grilled eggplant and red pepper. The wrap would be good without the parmesan cheese, but the parmesan just takes it over the top.
If you have never celebrated parmesan like this, go ahead. Get rid of your grater because you are in for a treat!
|Eggplant, medium, sliced diagonally 1/4-inch thick||1|
|Pepper, red, large||1|
|Pepper, green, hot||2|
|Lettuce, Romaine, pieces||4|
|Cheese, Parmesan, slices||4|
|Mushrooms (roasted), marinated (in oil, not vinegar)||16|
|Black Olive Tapenade:||(makes 5 heaping tablespoons or 1/3 cup)|
|Olives, black, pits removed||1 cup|
|Olive oil||2 tbsp|
|Black pepper||1 turn|
|Garlic, clove, sliced||1|
|Oregano, fresh, sprig, large||1|
|Vinegar, red wine||2 tsp|
|Tortilla wraps, whole wheat||2|
1. For the grilled vegetables, slice eggplant diagonally 1/4-inch thick. Brush each slice on both sides with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper on one side only.
2. Grill eggplant slices 3-4 minutes on each side. Place red and green peppers whole on the bbq and grill until charred on all sides (approximately 3-4 minutes for the green pepper and 8-10 minutes for the red pepper).
3. Place peppers in a small bowl and cover with saran wrap. After they have cooled, remove skins and seeds.
4. For the black olive tapenade, place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and all ingredients are well combined approximately 3-4 minutes.
5. To assemble the wrap, lay the wrap flat onto a plate. Spread 1 tbsp of the olive tapenade on one side of the wrap. Follow with, two layers of eggplant slices (6-8 slices depending on the size of the eggplant), 2 pieces of the red pepper (half the red pepper), one green pepper, two leaves of Romaine lettuce, two slices of parmesan cheese, and 8 marinated mushrooms. Fold half the warp over contents and draw that part of the wrap and its contents towards you. Fold in the ends (both sides) and continue to tightly roll the wrap. Repeat with second wrap.
There is enough tapenade to make 4 sandwiches, so you may choose to double the recipe to serve 4 or freeze the additional 3 tablespoons in individual tablespoons for another time. Yum!