Holiday time can be incredibly difficult if you are trying to lose weight, or even if you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Cookie exchanges, well-meaning friends bringing by that plate of fudge, the co-worker giving out chocolates as Christmas gifts. Not to mention those office holiday parties. My office goes one step further and, on the Monday before Christmas, has it's annual "pig-out" day. And, of course, everyone brings enough cookies, fudge, cheese sauce, cocktail weenies, and high-fat meatballs to last through to Christmas Eve.
One of the best strategies for dealing with this kind of situation is to bring something that you know is healthy and delicious to help guarantee that you'll stay on plan.
I came across the recipe while reading the December issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I knew I could lighten it and make it my contribution to our office holiday celebration. First, I used significantly less oil than the original and made the serving size smaller. I also used a smaller bread portion. The vinaigrette is wonderful and is not, by any means, light. However, this is one of those situations where less is more. There is so much flavor that you need less than a teaspoon per sandwich.
For my Weight Watchers friends, each sandwich is 4 points. A high-fiber bread would probably bring it down to 3!
Eggplant Sandwiches with Fontina and Caramelized Onions
Makes 12 sandwiches
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I had found some 12-year-old Moderna on sale, it was like syrup and incredible)
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped fine
1 garlic glove, pressed
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 large red onions, sliced thin
2 large eggplants, about 2.5 pounds, sliced lengthwise into 1/3-inch slices
8 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 12 slices
12 large lettuce leaves
24 slices of your favorite bread, I used Italian
Lay out eggplant slices on baking sheets and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the balsamic with shallots, and garlic. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and pepper and sprinkle with salt. Saute until they are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until soft, another 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic and continue to saute until very soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler. Pat eggplant dry, you'll need several paper towels for this. Lightly spray with olive oil and broil about 3 minutes on each side.
Layer bread, cheese, eggplant, onion and peppers, sauce and lettuce. Top with another slice of bread. Consider toasting the bread.
To get this to the office, I packed everything individually. I warmed the eggplant and onion mixture in the office microwave and built the sandwiches there. They were a huge hit!