Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crispy Eggplant Sandwiches + Roasted-Garlic Ricotta Spread

I love sandwiches.  They are nearly the perfect food. Many days I eat them for breakfast and lunch, but rarely do I eat a sandwich for dinner. This sandwich counts as dinner. The key to this particular sandwich is to get a good eggplant. The fresher the better. Look for a smooth skin and no soft spots. Here I pair the crispy eggplant with arugula, tomato sauce, and roasted garlic ricotta spread. 
While taking a shortcut preparing a batch of eggplant parmesan, I left out a step. I typically dry out-bread in the oven before pulverizing it into crumbs which I use to coat the slices of eggplant. This time I tore up a 1/2 of a fresh baguette and stuck it into the food processor. The result was a moist breadcrumb unlike any I had ever used. When the eggplant emerged from the oven, the outside was crispy and crunchy, but the inside was soft and moist and in between is a rich layer that tastes like it has been batter-coated. With dry breadcrumbs the outside may be crisp but the inside not yet cooked. This way all the components are done at the same time. When you take a new path, even if it is a shortcut, you always make a discovery.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches
(serves 4)

1 medium eggplant (makes about a dozen slices)
3 cups torn fresh bread (use extra ciabatta or kaiser)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning mix (Penzney’s makes a good one)
1 cup of flour (for dredging) 
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (more for garnish)
2 cloves of roasted garlic
1/2 cup  of ricotta
2 cups arugula or spinach
1 cup good-quality tomato sauce
4 ciabatta or sesame kaiser rolls

Crispy Baked Eggplant:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make breadcrumbs from the fresh bread by adding the torn bread and the Italian seasoning to the work bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the bread has broken down into a fine crumb. Place breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and set aside. Slice the eggplant between 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle each slice with salt and pepper to taste. Set up a line of 3 medium bowls (cereal bowls will do fine here). The first bowl should contain the flour, the second the egg, and the third the breadcrumb. Dredge eggplant slices in the flour, shake excess flour off, dip each in the egg, and then roll them in the bread crumbs to coat. Arrange the eggplant slices on a large, parchment-lined, baking sheet. Drizzle each with about 1/8 teaspoon of olive oil and put them into the oven. After 15 minutes, flip the slices and drizzle each slice with more olive oil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes of cooking time. 
Roasted Garlic + Ricotta Spread:
The fast way to roast garlic is to put the garlic cloves skin-on into a dry, hot skillet. Allow it to cook until the skin is blackened. Let it cool, and inside the burnt skin you'll find a soft smoky, sweet clove of garlic. Mix the ricotta, roasted garlic cloves, and parmesan together using a fork or food processor.

To assemble the sandwiches, throw your bread into the warm oven. Once the bread is warm assemble the sandwich like this: arugula, three slices of eggplant, 1/8 cup warm tomato sauce, sprinkle of parmesan. Spread some Roasted Garlic + Ricotta Spread on the underside of the top bun and you are in for a treat. 


  1. I can make this over the weekend!
    -Courtney Kirton

  2. Awesome! It's also good without the bread. Just stack it up on a plate with the ricotta spread in-between each slice and top it with tomato sauce.

  3. Do you want the full review posted here for or emailed?

  4. It's best if you post it here. It'll help keep me organized.

  5. I will let my daughter's comment sum up this recipe: "This is so good, oh, this is so good! We are SO having this again."

    The recipe measurements were perfect and the ingredients were easy to find. The fresh breadcrumbs smelled delicious and made an excellent crust. I have never roasted garlic cloves and found that to be easy also. I sliced some pieces of eggplant thicker and some thinner, and my personal preference was the thinner ones.

    My daughter especially loved the ricotta mixture and went back to add extra on her sandwich. We did decide that the spinach didn't add a lot of flavor, but she said the spinach made it much healthier, so she likes the spinach on there.

    We loved this recipe and my daughter is having a blast trying out the new foods!

    Courtney Kirton

  6. This has made my night. Thank you so much. We'd love to know how young is this little person who is eating eggplant and spinach? My 3 year old nephew would eat this up too! It makes us happy to make vegetables appealing to kids.

  7. She is 9 and the only child I've ever known to PREFER healthy food. If she is given a choice she will always ask which is better for her and then choose the healthiest option. She said she didn't like the way eggplant looked, but was glad she tried it because it was so delicious.