This summery roasted eggplant sandwich with romesco sauce is meal prep-able, and perfect for lunches and picnics.
If you get my newsletter or follow me on Instagram, you already know I’m dedicating this month to vegan sandwiches. *cue the fanfare!* I got inspired to start the series when Rene and I took a trip to Vermont last month. Long story short, we ate a lot of sandwiches (well, that’s not all we did, but you get the point).
Sandwiches are a great quick meal for any time of day – especially when you’re on a roadtrip. And that weekend, I realized it’s nearly impossible to get a good vegan sandwich at a standard deli. Most of the time, your only meatless options are a Caprese-style sandwich with a giant hunk of cheese in the middle; or a cold hummus sandwich with raw vegetables and sprouts. Call me difficult, but hummus does not a good sandwich make.
That’s why I wanted to spend some time exploring just how delicious and satisfying vegan sandwiches can be. (Not that it’ll change deli culture or anything, but at least it’ll give you and me some inspiration.)
Why You Should Try This Roasted Eggplant Sandwich
This Mediterranean-inspired eggplant sandwich is hearty, satisfying, and bursting with summer flavors. It consists of buttery slices of roasted eggplant (aka aubergine to my British friends), zingy romesco sauce, arugula, and basil. The best part is you can prep the two elements (eggplant and sauce) in advance, and assemble them into sandwiches as needed – for quick lunches, picnics, or travel.
What is Romesco Sauce
Romesco (not to be confused with romanesco, a vegetable) is a traditional sauce from Catalonia. Often eaten with fish, romesco typically consists of roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, nuts, stale bread, garlic, vinegar, and oil. I wanted to keep my version as simple as possible so I did away with the tomatoes. This sauce is bright and zingy, and can be eaten in a ton of different ways: as a bed for roasted vegetables, a sandwich spread, a dip for crudités, a pasta sauce, or a topping for grain bowls.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Eggplant: Look for eggplant that has glossy, taut skin without indentations or bruising. That’s how you know it’s fresh.
- Bread: I love the tang of sourdough for this roasted eggplant sandwich, but you can use any hearty sandwich bread here, like ciabatta or even a baguette.
- Basil: Basil adds a delicious floral quality to this sandwich and complements the eggplant so well. I wouldn’t substitute it with anything else, so if you don’t have any, just skip it.
- Almonds: Here you can sub them with roasted pistachios or walnuts.
- Vinegar: You can use pretty much any mild vinegar or fresh lemon juice here. I’d avoid white vinegar, though – it can be harsh.
Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches Step-by-Step
Salt the Eggplant: Slice the eggplants into rounds. Place a layer of them in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Continue layering while salting each layer. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes. When the eggplant looks sweaty, transfer to a kitchen towel and pat dry.
Roast the Eggplant: Brush the rounds with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Roast until soft and deeply golden, ~30 minutes. Be sure to place the eggplant in a single layer so it turns out evenly brown and not mushy.
Start the Sauce: Meanwhile, toast a piece of oiled bread in a skillet until crispy. Let it cool, then tear into chunks, and place in a food processor, along with the nuts. Puree until everything’s broken down.
Finish the Sauce: Add the remaining sauce ingredients to the food processor (roasted red peppers, garlic, paprika, vinegar, and olive oil) and puree until the sauce is combined but still has a chunky texture.
Assemble the Sandwiches: Spread the sauce on both sides of your sandwich bread, and top with eggplant, arugula, and basil.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Not only is eggplant skin totally edible, but it contains tons of antioxidants and fiber.
Eggplant naturally contains a lot of moisture and some bitterness. Generously salting it and letting it stand for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking helps combat both of these issues. The salt makes eggplant “sweat out” (literally) the excess moisture and bitterness. (Don’t worry about the sodium. This salt will melt on the eggplant and ultimately get wiped off – it will not get absorbed into the eggplant.)
Yes. As I said, both of the sandwich elements (eggplant and sauce) can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until needed. You do not need to warm the sandwich before eating.
More vegan sandwiches…
- Creamy Mushroom Tartine
- Tempeh Banh Mi with Quick-Pickled Veg
- My Ultimate Veggie Burger
- Portobello Mushroom Sandwich
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag your creation with @thenewbaguette on Instagram.Print
This hearty roasted eggplant sandwich with romesco sauce is meal prep-able, and perfect for lunches and picnics.
For the Sandwiches
- 1 large or 2 small eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 slices whole wheat sourdough bread, toasted (or another good sandwich bread, like ciabatta or baguette)
- About 2 cups arugula
- About 1/4 cup sliced basil
For the Romesco Sauce
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small slice bread
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds* (see note below)
- 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained well
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon red wine, apple cider, or balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Trim the eggplant ends. Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place a layer of the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Continue layering and salting each layer. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF.
- When the eggplant looks sweaty, transfer it to a kitchen towel and pat dry.
- Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with oil and season with salt and pepper; flip and oil and season the other side. Roast until the eggplant is soft and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes, flipping once after about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1 small slice of bread and cook until it’s golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side.
- When the bread is cool enough to handle, tear it into chunks and place in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup almonds and pulse until everything is broken down. Then add 2 drained peppers, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Pulse until everything is broken down but still chunky. With the motor running, gradually stream in the olive oil and pulse until everything is incorporated. Season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if needed.
- To assemble the sandwiches, spread some of the romesco on both sides of toasted sandwich bread, sprinkle with basil, layer on the eggplant and arugula.
Instead of almonds, you can use roasted pistachios or walnuts. If you’re allergic to nuts, sub with sunflower seeds.
- Serving Size: 1 sandwich
- Calories: 550
Keywords: eggplant, romesco, sandwich, vegan, lunch