Crispy eggplant sandwiches with tomato-tarragon relish and herb-y mayo—A hearty hand-held that is every bit as satisfying as the meaty stuff. Veggie sammies tend to have a bad rap. They’re either too mushy, too bland, or just emulate a salad wedged between two slices of bread. But a GOOD veggie sammie? Nothing compares. And this new-school version has the potential to become a regular in your rotation.
The star of this sandwich is the crispy baked eggplant. It’s toothsome enough to mimic meat’s heft and can stand up to other more dominating toppers. The preparation for the eggplant is the same one I use to make eggplant parmesan—it produces a crispy exterior and creamy inside without having to stand in front of the stove and risk getting splattered with oil.
When shopping for eggplant, choose one whose skin is vivid and shiny and stem is green—both great signs that the vegetable was recently harvested.Another crucial component of a next-level veggie sammie is to have a range of textural interplay. A mix of crunchy, snappy, and creamy textures will keep each bite as interesting as the next.
Part of this is achieved with a bright and wildly flavorful tomato-tarragon relish. I know, I know, tomato season has basically come and gone, but since the tomatoes are cooked down and mixed with other big flavor boosters, the whole “peak ripeness” component is a little less relevant. Use any variety that looks good at your grocery store or local farmers market.
The tangy tomato relish is the yin to herb-y mayo’s creamy, mellow yang. The mayo also gives the sandwich body and helps anchors the fillings to the bread so they don’t go slipping and sliding out when you take a bite (literally the worst).Finally: cheese and lettuce. I’d suggest a mild, highly meltable cheese like mozzarella to keep the central flavor focus on the other components. As far as lettuce; romaine, arugula, or even frisée (pictured here) will achieve the crisp factor you need.
A colorful sandwich is a flavorful sandwich, and this one is no exception. Pile it onto a fresh sourdough baguette and bring it to the outdoor picnic you’ve been meaning to plan all summer.
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
- 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg, whisked
- 2 medium globe eggplants, trimmed and cut lengthwise into ½-inch planks
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic cloves
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. lower-sodium tamari
- 1 tsp. granulated sweetener of choice (white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar)
- 1½ Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
- 2 Tbsp. avocado oil mayonnaise (such as Primal Kitchen)
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 (6") sourdough baguettes, halved lengthwise
- Lettuce for garnish (romaine, arugula, or frisée)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place an oven-safe rack over a large rimmed baking sheet covered with foil. Lightly spray rack with cooking spray.
- Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, ¼ tsp. each of the salt and black pepper in a wide-rimmed bowl. Place egg and 1 Tbsp. water in a separate bowl; whisk to combine.
- Dunk each slice of eggplant in egg mixture followed by breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Place eggplant slices on prepared baking rack. Lightly coat eggplant slices with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add shallots and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add tomatoes, vinegar, tamari, sweetener of choice, and remaining ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Simmer over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, until mixture reduces and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. of the tarragon.
- Combine mayonnaise and remaining ½ Tbsp. tarragon in a small bowl; stir well.
- To assemble sandwiches, divide eggplant evenly among the bottom half of 4 sliced baguette rolls. Top each with 1 slice mozzarella cheese. Broil bottom half of sandwich for 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese melts. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly onto other half of each baguette. Top each sandwich evenly with tomato-tarragon relish and lettuce, if desired.