Grilled Eggplant in Pita with Pomegranate-Walnut Sauce
Look for the small Italian
eggplants for these sandwiches so that the eggplant slices fit into the pita pocket. Otherwise, cut the larger slices in quarters after grilling. These sandwiches are best when dressed with the Pomegranate-Walnut
Saucelook for pomegranate syrup in Middle Eastern markets. Its sometimes labeled pomegranate molasses. A satisfactory substitute is frozen cranberry juice concentrate. If you choose a less time-consuming sauce, bottled ranch salad
dressing makes a fine option. Select a good-quality pita because some brands are not sturdy, and they fall apart after filling.
Grilled Eggplant Pitas
- 3 Italian eggplants (about 1 ½ lb.)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 medium-sized zucchini
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 2 large red onions
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 8 whole wheat pita breads
- 2 cups Pomegranate-Walnut Sauce
- 1 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup ground walnuts
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup pomegranate syrup
- 1 ½ Tbs. honey
- ½ tsp. salt
- To make Grilled Eggplant Pitas: Slice eggplants crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick pieces, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick pieces. Sprinkle with remaining salt. Place both vegetables on paper towels for 1 hour or longer. Press dry using fresh paper towels, pack for picnic and set aside.
- Cut peppers into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Slice red onions into 1/4-inch-thick slices, breaking apart circles. Place all vegetables in large container, and set aside.
- Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pepper, and pour over vegetables. Toss well, and refrigerate.
- Cut pita breads in half, and open for stuffing. Pack for picnic, and set aside.
- To make Pomegranate-Walnut Sauce: Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, and sauté onion and garlic until soft and transparent. Remove from heat. Place walnuts, cinnamon and cooked onions in blender, and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of container several times. Taste and adjust flavors with honey and salt, as needed. If mixture is thicker than mayonnaise, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.
- Chill until serving time, and store leftovers in container in refrigerator.
- Set and light charcoal fire, if using, about 30 minutes before serving. Otherwise, heat gas grill at serving time. Grill vegetables over medium-hot coals or gas grill, using basket for onions and peppers.
- When vegetables are soft and browned, remove from heat, and fill pitas with vegetables. Drizzle each sandwich with sauce, and serve 2 halves per person.
Pairing grilled foods with wine allows you to drink intense reds that normally overpower the food. This includes Washington State Merlots and big California Cabernets and Red Zinfandels. With the added Pomegranate-Walnut Sauce, lean toward a Red Zinfandel such as A. Rafanelli Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.