I feel like I'm usually blathering on about how budget-mindful I am and how health conscious I try to be. Yeah, add this as yet another instance. I love going out to restaurants with my friends and stuffing my face. But the only way I can balance out those massive caloric intakes is if I'm careful with the other meals I do eat. I came up with this recipe after days of gorging myself with flatbread and fried Brussels sprouts from Westside Tavern, French bread dunked in delicious shrimp and shrimp broth from Killer Shrimp, bulgogi shepherd's pie, and braised short ribs.
Needless to say, I needed something light, nutritious and obviously, something I'd actually look forward to eating. I wanted a grilled vegetable sandwich. Eggplant alone has a pretty neutral flavor, and with its firm yet yielding texture, it makes for the perfect flavor sponge -- it soaks up that fiery, smoky flavor from the grill. Paired with crunchy red bell pepper, nestled on a bed of fresh spinach, smeared lovingly with hummus and then tucked away into warm pita bread, it makes for the substantially perfect meal.
Still not quite sold? Each veggie and hummus-filled pita pocket yields just over 100 calories.
Serves: 4 sandwiches (half pitas) Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients 2 pitas, split in half 1/3 of a large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2" ovals 1/2 of a red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise in half 2 cups spinach, washed and trimmed 3/4 cup hummus Salt and pepper Olive oil
1. Brush the eggplant and red bell pepper slices with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Over high heat, grill on a stovetop iron griddle or saute in a medium pan, 3-4 minutes on each side for the eggplant, and about 2 minutes on each side for the red bell pepper. Set aside. They'll look like this:
2. Lightly warm the pitas on the grill, about 1 minute.
3. When the eggplant and red bell pepper have cooled slightly, cut into 1 to 1-1/2" chunks. It doesn't have to be perfect. Divide each into 4 equal portions (so you have equal amounts of vegetables in each sandwich). The veggie chunks will probably look like this:
4. Assemble sandwiches: Generously spoon about 3 tablespoons hummus into each pita. Stuff with about 1/2 cup of spinach, and 1 portion each of the eggplant and red bell pepper. Enjoy!
My Notes: How do you know it's only 100 calories?! I inputted the quantities into my recipe to one of those handy dandy calorie calculators. The first time I added it up, I actually determined 95 calories. But it's hard to get the exact number of calories in the eggplant, since the size and quantity will vary ever so slightly, and everyone will add varying amounts of olive oil and hummus. So I pegged the number at around 100 calories to be safe.