Persian Eggplant Sandwich and A Serious Cookbook Addiction


Is there a support group for compulsive cookbook buyers?

Hundreds of cookbooks share my office bookshelves with my collection of history and political science books from my thirty-two year teaching career and my growing collection of photography books.

My history books are sacred possessions but I’m beginning to think I could free up some space for more cookbooks by donating my political science books to the library. Given this miserable election cycle, I don’t want to read any stinkin’ poli sci.

One of my most recent cookbook purchases is Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, a book of recipes from the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Persian-born Ghayour is a food writer (The Washington Post, The WSJ, Saveur), teacher and cookbook author. This simple recipe for eggplant is from Persiana.

I used her spread to craft an exotic open-face sandwich for dinner last night, adding a couple slices of mozzarella and an absolutely exquisite slice of a red-ripe tomato from my friend Gene’s garden.

I’m going to keep this post short. I’m expecting a cookbook delivery of David Tanis books from Amazon.

Ingredients: Eggplant Sandwich

1 large white onion (cut in half and sliced thin)

1 large eggplant

1/3 to 1/2 C. labneh (or strained thickened yogurt or Persian kashk/whey)

Sea salt

Sourdough Bread (or pita or nan)

Mozzarella Slices

Chopped cilantro (or basil or Italian parsley)

A slice of my friend Sarah’s home grown tomatoes


Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large pan. (I used my Dutch oven.) When the oil is hot, fry the thinly-sliced onion until the onion is dark brown, being careful not to burn the onion.

Peel the eggplant and slice it into rounds and then into 1/2 inch cubes. Using the oil you used to fry the onion, fry the eggplant cubes until they are soft and beginning to color. Using a slotted spoon or cooking spider, remove the cooked eggplant cubes to another pan. (Use some self control and refrain from eating all the wonderful fried onion before proceeding.)

Using the back of a spoon, mash half to three-quarters of the eggplant cubes. (You want some of the cubes to keep their shape so that your eggplant dish will have some texture.) Stir in 3/4 of the fried onions. Add the labneh (or yogurt) and sea salt to your taste.

Turn the heat to medium low and cook your eggplant mixture for halt to three-quarters of an hour, stirring frequently until the labneh (or yogurt) turns a medium brown color.

Spread eggplant mixture on a lightly-toasted piece of sourdough bread (or pita or nan). Top with sliced mozzarella and heat under your broiler until the sandwich is hot and the mozzarella just begins to melt. Garnish with remaining fried onion and a slice of tomato. Enjoy.



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