Eggplant, Smoked Mozzarella & Honey Comb "Grilled" Cheese
Every bite of this gourmet grilled cheese is oozing with flavor.
Finally, a grilled cheese that is made on the grill! Eggplant is one of late summer's best farm stand finds. Once grilled, the eggplant takes on a smokey and earthy flavor that is reinforced and amplified when paired with smoked mozzarella and sweet honeycomb. Every bite is an explosion of flavor and texture. The smoked mozzarella, a cheese that is inherently dryer, is well suited to the high heat of the grill. Sweet honey is a natural fit for the bitterness of eggplant, deftly balanced by the peppery taste of arugula. No butter is needed to make sliced sourdough transform into charred and golden brown perfection. A hearty artisan bread begs to be toasted on a grill. Just one bite and you'll be begging for more!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; grill; pastry brush; grill tongs; grill offset spatula
2 large eggplants, trimmed, cut lengthwise ½-inch thick slices
1 cup olive oil
8 slices sourdough bread
1 pound smoked mozzarella, sliced
1, 5-ounce package baby arugula
½ cup honeycomb
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
ILOC tip: remember to have all of your mise en place ready before you begin to grill so that you achieve the intended results
1. Preheat the grill to 450F. Brush the eggplant on both sides generously with olive oil and set aside (use only as much olive oil as you need). Once the grill is hot, grill the eggplant, approximately 3 minutes per side, until the eggplant is softened and you have strong grill marks. Remove from the grill and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, grill the bread slices on one side - the outside - just as would happen in a traditional grilled cheese sandwich.
3. Once toasted, move the bread to the cool part of the grill (or remove from the grill entirely if there is no cool section) and top with smoked mozzarella slices, slightly overlapping if necessary to cover the surface of the bread in cheese. Lower the heat to low and return or move the bread slices to the warm part of the grill. Cover for 3-4 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
4. Top four of the eight slices of now melted smoked mozzarella and bread with eggplant, then sprinkle with kosher salt. Top the other four slices of melted smoked mozzarella and bread with freshly ground black pepper. Remove all the bread slices from the the grill to assemble. Turn off the grill.
5. Top each eggplant slice of bread evenly with 2 tablespoons of crumbled/broken honeycomb. Then top with a fistful of arugula. Top each of the garnished eggplant slices with a remaining peppered/melted smoked mozzarella slice.
6. Return the now four assembled sandwiches to the grill and cover, letting the sandwiches warm up for 2-3 minutes.
7. Remove the sandwiches from the grill, slice in half, and serve immediately.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
"This is the perfect dish to make with leftover grilled eggplant, which cuts the cooking time in half."