This behemoth, double-decker Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwich is yet another recipe from “Emeril at the Grill,” – the “trois” of the ménage a trois that is me, my grill and this book.

Jeff still rules as the Undisputed King of Grilled Meats, but I can put some serious marks on an eggplant.

Since it’s too hot to grill outside during the week, we’ve been reserving Sunday evenings for firing up the grill and cooking as much as we can in advance. Especially since grilled vegetables will keep for about four days in the refrigerator.

That’s four days of vegetables THAT I DON’T HAVE TO COOK that can be added to omelets, pasta, brown rice, couscous, flatbreads, tortillas, pitas, pizzas and, yes, this sandwich. A sandwich that is not unlike stuffing a garden between two pieces of bread. Or three.

It’s a looker.

But besides all the vegetables – eggplant, peppers, red onion, zucchini and squash – this sandwich has two extra, elevating components that make it as good as any I’ve had in a restaurant: a goat cheese spread and a balsamic vinaigrette. The goat cheese is flavored with garlic and fresh basil, forming a magical concoction I’d happily eat with a spoon until I was too large to leave the house without a complex system of levers and pulleys.

And the balsamic vinaigrette is perfectly suited for softening the toasted bread and adding brightness and tang to counter the smokiness of the grilled vegetables.

Unless you’re serving a big group, you’ll have plenty of grilled vegetables for future lunches and/or experimentation. Think “luxury,” not “leftovers.” It’s much easier to throw together a healthy meal quickly when you’ve got all of this produce ready and waiting.

And if I can be healthy and lazy at the same time? Well, that’s living the dream, isn’t it?

Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Adapted from “Emeril at the Grill”

Makes 6 to 8 sandwiches, depending on the size of the ciabatta

  • 1 large globe eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 1/3″-thick rounds
  • Salt
  • 4 bell peppers of assorted colors
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 1 large zucchini, cut on the diagonal into 1/3″-thick slices
  • 1 large yellow squash, cut on the diagonal into 1/3″-thick slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces soft, mild goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 loaf ciabatta, cut into 1/2″-thick slices
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high.
  2. Place the eggplant slices on a wire rack, and sprinkle them lightly with salt on both sides. Set aside until the eggplant begins to “sweat,” about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, brush all sides of the peppers with some of the olive oil. Grill the peppers, turning them occasionally, until they are blistered and lightly charred on all sides. Place them in a bowl, cover it tightly with a lid (or plastic wrap), and set it aside to steam while you grill the remaining vegetables.
  4. Cut the onions into 1/2″-thick rounds, and then insert toothpicks horizontally through the slices to hold them together on the grill. Pat the eggplant slices dry with paper towels. Brush both sides eggplant, zucchini, squash and red onion slices with the remaining olive oil and place them on a large baking sheet or platter. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables, in batches if necessary, until they are lightly charred on the edges and nicely marked on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the grilled vegetables to a platter and set aside.
  5. Slide the skins off the peppers, and discard the cores and seeds. The peppers should separate into wide strips. Add them to the platter with the other vegetables.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Lightly toast the ciabatta slices, either on the grill or in the toaster.
  8. Assemble a sandwich by drizzling some of the vinaigrette over one side of a slice of ciabatta and generously spreading some of the goat cheese mixture over one side of a second slice. Arrange an assortment of grilled vegetables over the vinaigrette-coated slice. Top the vegetables with the second slice of bread, goat cheese side down, and press gently to form the first sandwich. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, sugar and garlic in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.