Fresh tomatoes and basil over gooey melted mozzarella make this grilled eggplant sandwich perfect for a lazy summer day! No measuring required, it's perfect if you're looking for vegetarian sandwiches to use up all of those tomatoes from the garden.
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One of the best things about this grilled eggplant sandwich recipe is that it is very lazy. No measuring, just handfuls and bunches and drizzles. So easy, no fuss, no muss. I mean, right now I am almost too lazy to write about it. But you need to eat it, so I will carry on.
Grilled eggplant is outstanding on its own, but when you combine it with all of the Italian flavors that makes a caprese salad so good - fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar - you've got yourself a very tasty grilled eggplant sandwich that just might be the embodiment of summer.
So be lazy. Enjoy the last, lazy, crazy days of summer. No sweat.
Ingredients you'll need
- Italian eggplant: These are the larger, thicker, rounder eggplants. The thin Japanese eggplant are a bit too small for this as they are likely to fall through the grates of the grill.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes: Use whatever tiny tomatoes you can find, whatever color they may be.
- Fresh mozzarella cheese: We're using fresh mozzarella because it melts really quickly and is extra creamy.
- Balsamic vinegar reduction: You could make it, but let's remember the theme here - laziness means I bought it at the Italian market.
- Baguette or ciabatta bread: Something soft in the middle with a bit of a toothsome crust on the outside.
- Fresh basil leaves: Because summer = tomatoes and basil.
- Extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt: For seasoning and grilling.
- Kosher salt: To season the eggplant as it cooks and to season the tomatoes when finishing the sandwich.
INGREDIENT TIP: Make this Italian eggplant sandwich vegan by substituting vegan cheese for the fresh mozzarella.
How to make grilled eggplant sandwiches
Step 1: Grill the eggplant
Cut the eggplant into ½ inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil and salt.
Place eggplant on a grill or cast-iron grill pan, over medium high heat and grill, turning once, and let them cook through until soft. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: Prep the remaining ingredients
Slice tomatoes in half and slice basil leaves into thin strips. Slice bread in half.
Step 3: Melt the cheese on top!
Layer the grilled eggplant slices on top of baguette and top with cheese slices. Place under the broiler until cheese begins to melt and bubble.
Step 4: Finish the eggplant sandwiches and serve!
Top the eggplant sandwiches with tomato slices and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction, and sprinkle the basil over the top.
Can you make this sandwich with oven roasted eggplant?
Yes, you can absolutely turn this into a roasted eggplant sandwich instead of grilled! If you don't have an outdoor grill or a grill pan, you can slice the eggplant as directed, then roast in a 450 degree F oven on parchment-lined baking sheets, for 30-35 minutes until it softens and starts to get golden brown.
What to serve with eggplant sandwiches
Make ahead and storage
These eggplant sandwiches are best the day they are made.
If you'd like to work ahead, you can grill or roast the eggplant the day before, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before assembling the sandwiches—the cheese will melt quickly and it you don't want the eggplant to still be cold in the middle.
More sandwich recipes
It seems I have a thing for Italian sandwiches...
- Try a Salami Sandwich with Frico and Mostarda to bring an adult perspective to your childhood salami on white bread with yellow mustard.
- Keep grilling and make an Italian Steak Sandwich with Grilled Radicchio, it's got a great combo of bitter and sweet flavors.
- A Turkey Bagel Sandwich with Hot Sweet Mustard is what you want the day after Thanksgiving.
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Eggplant Sandwich Recipe
- 1 eggplant
- 1 baguette or ciabatta loaf
- 6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or other small heirloom tomatoes
- fresh basil
- balsamic glaze
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- Slice the eggplant into ½ inch slices. Brush with olive oil and salt.
- Place eggplant on a grill or grill pan, and cook through until soft, turning once. Set aside to cool.
- Slice tomatoes in half, cut the basil leaves into thin strips, slice baguette in half.
- Layer eggplant slices on top of baguette and top with cheese slices. Place under the broiler until cheese begins to melt and bubble.
- Top eggplant sandwiches with tomato slices and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, and sprinkle basil over the top.
- If you don't have an outdoor grill, a cast-iron grill pan will work nicely for the eggplant. Be sure it's nice and hot. Or you can roast the eggplant slices in the oven on parchment lined baking sheets at 450 degrees F.