Eggplant Salad Sandwich- I Mean Eggpants

eggplant salad sandwich

Open-Faced Eggplant Salad Sandwich (with roasted red bell pepper, walnuts and ricotta). Is it a meal or a snack? Casual lunch or elegant party food? Healthy or decadent? Heck. Do you eat it with a fork or pick it up and cram it in your mouth? Is it even a sandwich? I don’t know.

But I do know it’s a wonderful showcase of one of my favorite vegetables (eggplants) brought into sharp focus with creamy ricotta and earthy walnuts and served on a slab of excellent black bread. It’s the contrast of ingredients that makes this recipe so interesting to me.

Eggplant Salad Sandwich

Besides, it’s an open-faced sandwich… As a kid nothing was as fun to me as an open-faced sandwich. It sounds ridiculous now, but an open-faced sandwich was the height of elegance to this 6 year old food nerd. Regular kids ate sandwiches with two pieces of bread (and that bread was white). Regular kids ate sandwiches with the crusts cut off by their ‘mommies’. But I ate open-faced sandwiches (with all sorts of dark and whole wheat breads) as I listened to my mother play Cat Stevens on the guitar and do her French homework at the same time. I was a sophisticated kid who ate eggplants on black bread, yet gleefully delighted in calling them eggpants. You have to remember this is way before SpongeBob SquarePants (why are “pants” so funny to little boys?)

Of course many of my childhood open-faced sandwiches weren’t really eggpants at all, and they weren’t usually served on black bread. They were just plain old PB&J (with the whole wheat crusts cut off).

However, I regularly pulled these little sandwiches apart. I opened them up and served them to myself open-faced. In the most sophisticated manner a 6 year old could muster. I may have looked silly (or worse to the other little boys) but my love of the open-faced genre came from my mother, Cat Stevens and the romance of conjugated verbs.

As an adult I still love open-faced sandwiches (on any color bread). They’re really fun to work with because of their versatility. An open-faced sandwich has so many more options than sandwiches with two pieces of bread. Drippy options like Eggplant Salad Sandwiches have a tendency toward messiness, which can very quickly get out of hand. So keep a fork and napkin handy. Open-faced sandwiches aren’t meant to be eaten between two pieces of bread with two hands– the way regular adults eat. Some things never change. Open-Faced Eggplant Salad Sandwich. GREG

eggplant salad sandwich

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-8Source Adapted from Paula WolfertPublished
eggplant salald

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pound eggplant (whatever type you prefer)
  • 2 red bell pepper
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (divided)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (well drained)
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • 8 slice black bread (toasted)
  • 1 bunch pea tendrils (rinsed and dried)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pierce the eggplants with a sharp fork in two or three places and place them on a rack set over a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast them in the heated oven until completely soft and the skin is black and blistery, about 50 minutes total depending on size. The longer and slower the roasting, the creamier the eggplant will be.

When the eggplants begin to collapse, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Slice them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out all the flesh, transferring it to a medium bowl. Crush the flesh into a rough puree with a fork.

Meanwhile, blacken the bell peppers by whatever method you prefer. I place a pepper directly on the grate of a single burner on gas stove set to a high, turning the pepper with fire-safe tongs every 1-2 minutes until all sides side are well blackened.

Once the peppers are adequately blackened, toss them into a heat safe bowl and cover. Allow the peppers to steam for 3-4 minutes. Once cool enough to handle rub the blackened skin off with your fingers. It’s okay if you don’t remove all the skin.

Use a small paring knife to slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the center core, stem and seeds. Don’t worry if some of the flesh has been blackened. This will only add to the flavor. Chop one pepper into small dice and mix it with the eggplant. Cut the other pepper into 8 equal sized strips; set aside.

Use a food processor or a mortar and pestle to process the garlic and half the walnuts into a rough puree. Add the ricotta cheese, oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste); continue to process until well combined.

Scrape the garlic-walnut mixture in to the eggplant-pepper pulp and mix well. Stir in the remaining walnuts and taste for seasoning.

Lay the toasted black bread out on a surface in front of you. Divide the pea tendrils between all the toasts and top each with some of the eggplant salad. Garnish with the reserved red bell pepper strips. Serve with a good grind of black pepper.