Greek Eggplant, Two Ways

A few summers ago, while on vacation visiting a friend, she took me to a Greek sandwich shop at the Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. I had never cared much for eggplant before that experience, but the eggplant sandwich I adventurously (I thought) chose that day completely changed my mind. Unlike the disappointing eggplant Parmesan I’d been submitted to at potlucks as a child, this was sweet and velvety and delicious with gorgeously ripe tomatoes, tangy shards of feta and briny olive tapenade. As soon as I got back to Chattanooga, I attempted to recreate it, and eventually landed on a recipe that I was happy with.

A couple of years later, I had a friend coming for dinner and purchased the ingredients for this sandwich, only to find out that she had recently discovered that she was gluten-intolerant. Without time to go shopping for something else, I decided to give the sandwich a bit of a makeover and turned it into a salad. It was delicious that way as well, so now I offer you the recipe in its original iteration, as well as its gluten-free cousin.

I make no claims that this recipe is authentically Greek, but it is certainly inspired by Mediterranean flavors and, more importantly, is delicious. 

Greek Eggplant Sandwiches

  • 1 loaf of focaccia or ciabatta bread

  • black olive tapenade (see recipe below)

  • 4 Roma (or other small) tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

  • 4 ounces block feta, sliced into thin sheets

  • 2 garlic cloves, halved

  • 1 large or 2 smaller eggplants

  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly into half moons

  • good-quality olive oil

  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler. Slice into 1/3” rounds and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss with your hands to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is golden and very soft, but has not yet begun to brown on the edges.

Meanwhile, slice the bread loaf down the middle lengthwise to separate the top and bottom halves of the loaf. Bake for 4-5 minutes, or until the bread begins to get a bit toasted. Remove from the oven and rub the cut sides with the garlic.

To assemble the sandwich, slather one piece of bread with tapenade. Layer on the eggplant, feta, tomatoes and onions, then top with the remaining bread. Slice into four pieces and serve with a side salad of seasonal greens.

Makes 4 servings.

Make it vegan: Simply omit the feta and be more generous with the tapenade.

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Greek Eggplant Salad

  • 4 Roma (or other small) tomatoes, chopped

  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled

  • 1 large or 2 smaller eggplants

  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly into half moons

  • 4 big handfuls of seasonal greens (I like to use some flat-leaf parsley mixed in with the greens)

  • good-quality olive oil

  • black olive tapenade (see recipe below)

  • 1/2 tsp. dried oreganno

  • sea salt

Prepare the eggplant as above. To make the dressing, prepare the tapenade recipe below, and thin to the desired consistency with more olive oil and olive brine. Whisk in the dried oregano. 

To serve, layer the greens on a large platter and top with the roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onions and crumbled feta. Drizzle lightly with the dressing and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Make it vegan: Omit the feta and add a couple of tablespoons of capers. _______________________________________________________

Black Olive Tapenade

  • 8 oz. jar of black olives, brine reserved

  • 1 T. capers

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

  • juice of one lemon

  • ¼ c. olive oil, plus more as needed

Into the bowl of a food processor, add the olives, two tablespoons of brine, capers, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse a few times to chop. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow stream. Alternate adding one tablespoon of brine and one tablespoon of oil until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.