No-Bread Italian Sandwiches

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I love sandwiches! There’s something perfect about eating a wrapped-up package filled with my favorite meats, cheese, and condiments. Sandwiches can be healthy, but the bread is usually full of carbs, and it adds unnecessary calories to my day. So, I’ve been looking for alternatives. I hadn’t really found anything that satisfied my requirements until I discovered the brilliant solution we use in these No-Bread Italian Sandwiches: eggplant slices!

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Before this, I tried everything: Cauliflower bread is too crumbly, and turkey roll-ups feel more like an appetizer than a meal. And lettuce wraps work great for cooked fillings, but they fail to satisfy when it comes to sandwiches made with thinly sliced deli meats. These eggplant slices, on the other hand, are perfect for No-Bread Italian Sandwiches! They have a spongy texture like real bread, and they hold up well without falling apart. Simply put, they eat perfectly when filled with flat deli meats. It’s like a match made in heaven!

Why We Salt Eggplant

If you’ve never worked with eggplant before, you might wonder why we include a salting step. It’s not just to season the slices, either. The salt actually makes the eggplant easier to cook .

Eggplant flesh is similar to a sponge. It will soak up other flavors, which is why it makes such a good sandwich “bread.” But, if it’s not cooked properly, the eggplant can soak up too much oil. That makes it soggy and oily instead of light and fluffy, which would definitely ruin the eating experience.

Salting the slices pulls out excess moisture from the vegetable. That not only removes any excess bitterness from the eggplant, but it also creates a kind of protective layer. When the eggplant hits the hot skillet, it will sear beautifully instead of soaking in that oil. The result is the perfect vehicle for our No-Bread Italian Sandwiches!

Nitrite-Free, Low-Sodium Deli Meats

We load our No-Bread Italian Sandwiches up with ham, salami, and pepperoni. It’s the perfect combination of deli meats to remind you of your favorite take-out sandwich! But, we’d advise you to take care when selecting your meats and to opt for nitrite-free, low-sodium products.

Most deli meats contain nitrites, a preservative that gives the meats their characteristically salty flavor and red-tinged color. While these preservatives make our food safe to eat, they also introduce an increased risk of cancer. The National Institutes of Health reports an increased risk of esophagus and stomach cancers in countries that consume a lot of salt-cured foods.

That’s why we recommend looking for nitrite-free products that use organic compounds to cure their meat. Boar’s Head and Hillshire Farms make several low-sodium deli meats, and Applegate makes their products with antibiotic-free, no hormone meat. Check the ingredient labels or ask the deli counter employees which products are low-sodium and have no added nitrites.

No-Bread Italian Sandwiches

No-Bread Italian Sandwiches

Yield: 4 Servings | Serving Size: 1 sandwich | Calories: 232 | Total Fat: 15 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Carbohydrates: 15 g | Fiber: 6 g | Sugar: 9 g | Protein: 10 g | Cholesterol: 41 mg | Sodium: 689 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices deli ham (nitrate free & low sodium
  • 4 slices salami (nitrate free & low sodium)
  • 12 slices small pepperoni (nitrate free & low sodium)
  • 4 large romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 large tomato, slice into thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup sliced banana pepper rings
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing

Instructions

  1. Carefully slice the eggplant lengthwise into long slices, each about 1/4 inch thick. These will be the "bread" for the sandwich. You will need 8 slices total. Sprinkle salt onto each slice and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Brush each side of the eggplant slices with olive oil. Heat a skillet on high heat. Once the skillet is very hot place the eggplant into the pan searing each side about 2 minutes or until browned. The eggplant should still be firm. Once both sides are seared, let cool.
  3. Place four slices of the eggplant on a flat surface. Lay once slice of ham on top of each followed by once slice of salami and 3 pepperoni on each. Top with the lettuce, tomato, and banana peppers. Drizzle the Italian dressing over each. Place a second eggplant slice on top. Serve.
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