Italian Eggplant Sandwich

This Italian eggplant sandwich is bursting with flavor! Fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, juicy tomatoes, and tapenade pair perfectly with eggplant.

Italian eggplant sandwich

This post was created in partnership with Village Farms. All opinions are our own.

This sandwich is so irresistible, with one bite it will become part of your kitchen repertoire. Meet this Italian eggplant sandwich! Inspired by a little sandwich shop from a trip to Italy, this mighty sandwich has all the best Mediterranean flavors. Tender grilled or roasted eggplant, creamy fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and a unique flavor maker: olive spread. Place it all on foccacia bread, and it’s the stuff summer dreams are made of: ideal for patio parties, picnics and beach blankets. Here’s how to make it!

Ingredients for an eggplant sandwich

Even with something as simple as a sandwich, it can become complex the more components you add. We wanted this eggplant sandwich to be as easy as possible, so we chose each component carefully. The key is in the ingredient quality: make sure to use best quality ingredients! Here are the secrets on how to make this eggplant sandwich:

  1. Tomatoes: Make sure to use best quality ripe tomatoes! Here we used Village Farms Sinfully Sweet Campari® tomatoes, basically a large cherry tomato. Village Farms are sustainably grown hydroponic tomatoes, and their flavor is better than any grocery tomatoes we’ve found.
  2. Eggplant: To make this sandwich ultra flexible, you can grill your eggplant or bake it!
  3. Basil pesto: Use your favorite brand, or make it at home! Our favorite recipes are Best Basil Pesto, Cashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto.
  4. Olive spread: The “secret” flavor-maker here is olive spread, also called tapenade. You should be able to find it your local grocery. Or, make our homemade Kalamata Olive Spread.
  5. Best quality bread: Use the best bread you can find! Look for an artisan hoagie or focaccia bread.
How to make an eggplant sandwich

Method 1: Make grilled eggplant!

There are two ways to cook the eggplant for this eggplant sandwich: grilled and roasted! Summer is all about throwing summer vegetables on the grill. So if it’s that time of year and you have a grill, we recommend this method! It brings a smoky undertone to the eggplant. Grilled vegetables can be tricky because the timing depends on their thickness and each grill’s specific model and temperature. The most important thing is to pay attention!

Here are a few tricks on how to grill eggplant (or go to Grilled Eggplant):

  • Preheat a grill to medium high heat (that’s 375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Thinly slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds. The size is important: don’t go thicker or the eggplant will not cook through.
  • Directly before grilling, rub with olive oil. Don’t do this step in advance, or the eggplant will absorb all of the oil and become dry.
  • Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side, until tender and charred. Add salt to taste and enjoy!

Looking for more grilling ideas? Try Grilled Dinner Ideas, Summer Dinner Recipes to Eat Al Fresco

Italian eggplant sandwich

Method 2: Make roasted eggplant!

The other option is to roast your eggplant! This method is great because you can do it any time of the year. It’s a little easier than grilling because you can just pop it in the oven and it’s very hands off.

Here are a few tricks on how to roast eggplant (or go to Roasted Eggplant):

  • Chop: Slice the eggplant into rounds.
  • Mix with olive oil and salt: Mix with 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Eggplant soaks up the oil in an instant, so mix it right as soon as the oil hits its flesh.
  • Roast at 425 degrees: Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes until the eggplant is browned and tender, turning the slices once.
Cutting tomatoes

Make this eggplant sandwich gluten free or vegan

This eggplant sandwich is a fantastic summer vegetarian recipe that you can change up to make it fit into other diets. Here’s what we’d recommend:

  • Serve it as an eggplant stack (gluten-free). Try a low carb version of this eggplant sandwich by omitting the bread and using the grilled eggplant as the stacking base. It makes for a beautiful tower of eggplant, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Or, serve it over salad greens!
  • Use vegan pesto and omit mozzarella (or use plant-based). Try our Easy Vegan Pesto or Vegan Cashew Pesto. You can either omit the mozzarella (the sandwich has enough flavor on its own), or use your favorite vegan mozzarella brand.
Tomato & Eggplant Sandwich | A Couple Cooks

Check out Village Farms

Check out our tomato grilled eggplant stacked sandwich over on the Village Farms website:

This eggplant sandwich recipe is…

Vegetarian and refined sugar free. For gluten free, use gluten free bread or omit the bread and serve as a stack. For vegan, omit the mozzarella and use Vegan Pesto.

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Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Stacked Sandwiches | A Couple Cooks

Italian Eggplant Sandwich


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (10 votes, average: 4.80 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches 1x

Description

This Italian eggplant sandwich is bursting with flavor! Fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, juicy tomatoes, and tapenade pair perfectly with eggplant.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds. 
  2. Grilled method: Preheat a grill to medium high heat (375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Make sure the grates are clean. Right before grilling, brush each side with olive oil. Sprinkle the tops with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on the grill), turning halfway through, until tender and grill marks form. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan on the stovetop: heat the pan and grill the eggplant slices until they are tender and grill marks form.
  3. Roasted method: Or, you can roast the eggplant! Go to Perfect Roasted Eggplant and follow the instructions for eggplant rounds.
  4. Toast the bread: Toast the bread in the remaining minutes on the grill, or place it in the oven for a few minutes to toast it. 
  5. Assemble the sandwiches: Thinly slice the tomatoes. Tear the mozzarella into pieces. Spread pesto on the cut side of one piece of bread, and olive spread on the cut side of the other bread. Place grilled eggplant on the bread, and top with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil, if using. Top with the other bread slice. If desired, wrap in aluminum foil to help contain the mess when eating!
  6. Make ahead notes: The sandwiches can be made a few hours in advance for picnics. If doing so, you may want to slice the tomatoes and let them sit on a cutting board for several minutes to drain excess liquid.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Eggplant sandwich, Italian sandwich, Mediterranean sandwich

Looking for more vegetarian sandwich recipes?

Outside of this eggplant sandwich, are a few other vegan and vegetarian sandwich recipes we love:

Last updated: May 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

8 Comments

  • Reply
    bella
    August 16, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    I absolutely love grilled eggplant on sandwiches! These look SO delicious, I wish I had one in front of me right now!

  • Reply
    Alanna Taylor-Tobin
    August 16, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Finding a good veggie sandwich can be so challenging. Can’t wait to make these (and all the others you listed too!)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      August 30, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      Agree, they are deceptively challenging!

  • Reply
    Christiann Koepke
    August 17, 2018 at 12:48 am

    This looks soooo good!!! -CK

    • Reply
      Sonja
      August 30, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Ginger by Choice I food & lifestyle blog
    August 27, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Your tomato and grilled eggplant stacked sandwich sounds fantastico! I used to make tapenade all the time when I was 16 (we used to travel to Italy a lot ;) but totally forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me!

    Do you think this is a good sandwich to take on the plane? I cannot eat the food they serve in there (my stomach goes crazy over that horrible food) so it’s always good to have an alternative which is savory, delicious and easy to eat.

    Cannot wait to try this, especially the tapenade,
    Eva

    Ginger by Choice I food & lifestyle blog
    http://www.gingerbychoice.de/en/

    • Reply
      Sonja
      August 27, 2018 at 9:06 pm

      Haha you are so welcome! You could absolutely take this on a plane! I would probably slice the tomatoes and let them drain for a bit on the cutting board before adding them to the sandwich — they do add extra moisture! I think it would definitely work, especially if you wrap it in foil! Good luck!

  • Reply
    Claudia | The Brick Kitchen
    September 4, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Beautiful layers!!! I was in Florence this summer and had an epic stacked focaccia like this – so beautiful and definitely doable at home. Love the pesto and olives that you used!

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