Serious Eats: Recipes

Meat Lite: Eggplant, Chicken, and Smoked Mozzarella Sandwiches

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.

[Photograph: Robyn Gallagher]

A few months back when Serious Eats was cooking our book, Almost Meatless, there was lots of chatter about favorite nonmeat ingredients that boast meaty textures and flavors enough to make actual meat an afterthought or just completely unnecessary. If you cook an almost-meatless menu or a seriously meatless menu for most meals, these ingredients come in particularly handy.

One of the most mentioned of these nonmeat favorites was eggplant. Eggplant Parmesan, moussaka, stir fries, casseroles--the suggestions went on and on, and plenty of people mentioned that even meat-loving friends and family fell for the meatiness of meatless eggplant dishes.

In Almost Meatless, we use ingredients we call "Power Players." Smoked foods, including cheeses, leave an especially meatlike mark, likely because of our association (consciously or not) with the smoky flavor of the most beloved of all meat, bacon.

This sandwich uses both marinated eggplant and smoked mozzarella with a little bit of thinly sliced chicken and roasted red peppers. It's easy enough for vegetarians at to omit the chicken on their sandwiches while everyone else assembles a meat lite version.

"Chicken cutlets" are thinly sliced and pounded pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast. You can either buy the cutlets or make your own from full chicken breasts (as described below).

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