This isn’t a secret family recipe or anything fancy. I didn’t come up with a super original recipe all on my own. This is a sandwich we made in culinary school, and I don’t think I could count how many times I’ve made it since then. This grilled vegetable sandwich is plain old good eating. So I basically had to share it here. It’d be a shame if you didn’t have this recipe in your life. I think my favorite class was Baking and Pastries, but a place I really excelled in school was grilling. The first thing we grilled was a pork chop. It was the first time I had ever used a grill, and the second time in my life I had ever cooked a pork chop. Mine was perfectly cooked and I got some great comments that day on my skill. The sauce to accompany, on the other hand, needed some work, but the grilled pork chop itself was perfectly seasoned and cooked. Later in the semester we made these sandwiches and I once again received high marks on my work! Isn’t it always so great to feel accomplished and receive praise? I guess this recipe holds a sentimental place in my heart, and I promise it will hold a permanent place in your summer grilling recipe rotation.
Summertime is all about grilling, and while I love to throw some burgers and sausages up on there as much as the next guy, this sandwich is so juicy and hearty that it can play with the big boys. Mark my words: even the staunchest of carnivores won’t miss the meat. If you observe Meatless Mondays, this is a great meal to serve to your meat-eaters. I cut all the vegetables thick to make sure that each bite of this sandwich is filled with delectable summery goodness.
I love the versatility of this sandwich. You can build it with all the ingredients listed below, or customize it to use only your favorite vegetables. If you’re not a fan of sun dried tomatoes just leave them out of the spread. Trust me, the goat cheese can handle this sandwich all on its own. Don’t love grilled onions? Leave ’em out! Is there another summer vegetable that you love that isn’t pictured here? Slice it up, throw it on the grill and add it to this colorful array!
Okay so lets break it down:
Eggplant: These are beautifully purple on the outside, and you can leave that skin in tact because it is totally edible. No peeling required! Of course, if you want to do the extra work and for some reason prefer skinless eggplant, then by all means peel the skin before slicing. If you’ve never tried eggplant, or think you don’t like it, this is a perfect time to put your tastebuds to work and explore the earthy, simple flavor. Eggplant tends to take on the flavors of what it’s cooked with, and if you don’t “drain” it (which I don’t) it gets juicy so it give this sandwich that juicy goodness that you’d expect from a burger.
Zucchini and Yellow Squash: These are both light and subtle in flavor, and they lend a buttery texture and flavor.
Red Bell Peppers: These are the most mature of the bell pepper family, and have a sweet flavor that helps to balance the sharp goat cheese.
White Onions: I like white onions in this recipe because they’re a bit more flavorful than other types of onions so they don’t get lost in the abyss of vegetables. You can certainly use yellow, sweet or red and each would lend their own flavor and bite.
Goat Cheese Spread: As I said before, if you don’t love sun-dried tomatoes you can leave them out because goat cheese will stand up beautifully to all the flavors and textures in this sandwich. It’s sharp and tangy, smooth and creamy. I could probably write a book on my love of goat cheese and all the things I pair it with (a spoon being my favorite). The chopped sun-dried tomatoes add texture to the spread, and I think everybody would agree that tomatoes are the epitome of summer.
Balsamic Vinegar: Sweet, tart, syrupy. Mmmm. If there is an ingredient I crave as often as goat cheese, it’s balsamic vinegar. There are so many varieties and flavor profiles to choose from. So pick your favorite. The sweetness perfectly balances the salty flavors of the grilled vegetables and the tang of the goat cheese. Pour some into a small dish and grill an extra roll to snack on while you’re grilling the rest of the ingredients.
Arugula: This is the one piece of the sandwich that I leave out as often and I include. I love the peppery fresh taste of arugula, and the crispness it provides. I leave it out depending on who I am preparing this meal for, and how long the sandwiches will be sitting before being consumed. If you leave it on too long it’ll wilt and get mushy. So if you’re going to be building these sandwiches and letting them sit for a while, then I would either leave off the lettuce or throw it on just before serving.
Which reminds me! Grilled vegetable sandwiches are perfect hot and fresh off the grill, and they’re just as good at room temperature after all the flavors have had a chance to marry and meld together. One thing I like to do is present all the grilled vegetables on a big platter next to a bowl of the spread and a basket of the rolls and let everyone build their own sandwich.
Enjoy your summer and put your grill to good use this year! What are your favorite recipes to grill?