Grilled Fontina and Eggplant Caviar Sandwich
2 large eggplants, 2 1/2 lbs total
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 slices coarse-textured white bread
6 oz. Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
Prepare a fire in a charcoal or gas grill. Preheat an oven to 400°F.
When the grill is ready, place the eggplants on an oiled grill rack about 4 inches from the fire and grill, turning occasionally, until soft and black, 10-15 minutes. Transfer the eggplants to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the pulp onto a cutting board. Discard the skin. Chop the eggplant coarsely. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and olive oil. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Place a large frying pan over medium heat. While the pan is heating, spread 1 tablespoon of the butter on one side of 6 bread slices, dividing it evenly, and place them buttered side down on a work surface. Top the slices with half of the Fontina, distributing it evenly, then spread each sandwich with one-sixth of the eggplant mixture. Top with the remaining cheese. Spread the remaining 6 bread slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and place, buttered side up, on the sandwiches.
Place the sandwiches in the hot pan and cook until golden on the first side and the cheese is almost melted, 2-3 minutes. Turn the sandwiches and continue to cook until golden on the second side and the cheese is melted completely, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from the pan.
Transfer to individual plates and cut in half on the diagonal. Serve at once.