Grilling is undeniably on the short list of things that make spring and summer so wonderful. I think one of the best feelings is coming home after a long work day in the summer and getting to enjoy dinner from the grill. And then of course, there are the weekend meals on the grill which should pretty much always involve wonderful friends, beer or cocktails, good food and lots of laughter. This grilled veggie sandwich is a fantastic meatless option whether you are actually trying to eat less meat or are just looking for something different than the usual staples. It includes a simple walnut butter spread on the bread that adds a nice richness and is topped with grilled zucchini, eggplant, and portobello. Though the ingredients and preparation are simple, the finished sandwich is excellent. I found myself craving it again and again for days after we had this. Looks like they’ll be on next week’s meal plan!
For the walnut butter:
- ½ cup toasted walnuts
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pinch of coarse salt
- 4 large portobello mushrooms
- 1 eggplant, thinly sliced
- 1-2 zucchini, thinly sliced at an angle
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-4 oz. cheese such as mozzarella or fontina
- 4 slices whole grain bread (such as ciabatta)
- Fresh greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula, etc.)
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
To make the walnut butter, pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground but before they turn into a paste. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the butter and season with salt. Set aside.
Preheat a grill to high heat. Meanwhile, prep the veggies. Remove the stems and gills from the portobellos and gently peel the caps. Brush the portobellos, sliced eggplant and zucchini on both sides with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
When the grill is ready, add the veggies and grill, turning once. Add the sliced cheese to the portobello caps a couple of minutes before they are finished cooking. Cook until the portobellos are tender and the eggplant and zucchini are lightly charred and crisp-tender. If desired, brush the bread lightly with olive oil and toast before assembling the sandwiches.
To assemble, spread a bit of walnut butter on each piece of bread. Top each piece with some of the fresh greens, zucchini, eggplant, and a portobello. Finish with some slices of avocado, a bit of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve warm.