I can't believe I've never heard of this sandwich before. The Israeli specialty pairs fried eggplant with hard boiled eggs, hummus, a fresh salad, and some kind of spicy component. I first stumbled across this recipe on the vegetarian blog Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin and knew immediately I had to have it. [Ed. note: Nick, next time you're in NYC we'll have to take you to Taim! Their sabich is killer.]
Mostly, this was as simple as chopping some things up and placing them on a pita. But I worried about eggplant, as the recipe advocates a method I swore I'd never use.
Now, I love eggplant, but if there is one rule I've always followed when cooking them, it's that they suck up oil like a sponge. It's almost always preferable to roast them—almost because I've found the exception. To be sure, the eggplant still sucks up the oil, but after two minutes or so, they start to purge some of the oil back out. It's kind of remarkable. Plus, the eggplant comes out tender and really juicy.
The recipe also recommends adding mango pickles for spice. It sounded crazy, but I luckily had a jar in my fridge and gave it shot. It's great. A smear of harissa also works really well.
- 4 eggs
- 4 pieces pita bread
- 8 cherry tomatoes, ends trimmed, finely diced
- ½ English cucumber, finely diced
- ½ small white onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1 large eggplant, peeled, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick
- Canola oil
- 1 cup hummus
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- mango pickle, harisa, or hot sauce of choice
Pour 1 ½ quarts cool water into medium-sized saucepan. Carefully add eggs. Turn heat to high and bring to a bare simmer, about 180°F. Turn off heat and let sit for ten minutes. Transfer eggs to ice water and let cool. Then peel under cool running water, dry with paper towels, and thinly slice.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200 degrees. Add pita bread and let warm in oven.
Toss together tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and lemon juice in medium-sized bowl. Season with salt to taste.
Pour enough oil to coat bottom of 12-inch stainless steel skillet set over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add as many eggplant slices as will fit in one layer. Cook for about four minutes a side, or until they are well browned on each side. They will suck up the oil at first, but after a few minutes, they should purge some of it. Remove slices and drain on paper towel. Add just enough oil to cover bottom of the skillet again. Repeat process until all of the eggplant slices have been cooked.
Remove pita from oven. Add a few slices of eggplant, slices of hard-boiled egg, tomato salad, parsley, and hot sauce of choice.