Crispy fried eggplant sandwiches made with creamy vodka sauce and a vibrant arugula pesto all made in house topped with fresh mozzarella served in a fresh baguette.
This sandwich is packed with delicious flavourful sauces with a crisp crunchy bite from the eggplant that’s served with fresh bread. It’s a healthy-ish sandwich that uses loads of fresh ingredients and vegetarian friendly.
Both sauces can absolutely be made ahead. The arugula pesto is the easiest as it requires all the ingredients to be added whole into a food processor. Since it’s served cold it can simply be stored in the fridge until ready to serve. Pesto is also a great topping to keep in the fridge as it can be used for numerous types of meal, especially in the summer time when those gardens are in full bloom.
The vodka sauce can also be made ahead and reheated stovetop. Simply make without the cream and stir that in only when reheating. You may need to add a bit more water and or cornstarch to get the perfect consistency. But either way it will be just as tasty.
TIPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
We understand that this might seem like a lot all for a simple sandwich especially if making everything in 1 go. The great thing about this, is that both the arugula pesto and vodka sauce can be doubled and re-used for future meals. So you’ll be saving yourself in your next meal and that’s always a bonus. By doing this, we suggest doubling the ingredients for each sauce to leave you lots leftover.
Now, what to make with these leftover sauces? Well for a similar recipe- check out our Eggplant Caprese Stack. Other things you could make is pasta using either one of the sauces or both. Toss the pasta in the vodka sauce and serve it with a few dollops of pesto on top! Pesto is great for sandwiches, wraps, as a dip with veggies or crackers or as a salad dressing mixed with a bit more oil.
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Crispy eggplant sandwich
Fried eggplant with vodka sauce and arugula pesto all made in house with fresh mozzarella served in a baguette.
- baguette or ciabatta buns
- 1 large firm eggplant
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Oil for frying
- 250 g fresh mozzarella thinly sliced
- Arugula pesto:
- 1 1/2 cup arugula
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 lemon juiced + zest
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup pinenuts
- 1/2 cup parmesan freshly grated
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Vodka sauce:
- 2 TBS butter
- 2-3 large shallots finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 1 TBS red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 TBS cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup parmesan freshly grated
Prepare the arugula pesto: Combine all the ingredients into a food processor or blender except the olive oil. Blend until finely ground for 1 minute. Slowly add the oil and continue to blend into a smooth texture. Set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the vodka sauce: Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallot and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until all the butter has been absorbed and the shallots begin to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the chili flakes and tomato paste. Cook for an additional minute to allow the tomato paste to breakdown and release its flavour. Add the vodka and bring to a slow boil. Once boiling reduce to simmer. Combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Add to the sauce with the cream. Let that simmer until thickened for 10 minutes. Once thickened add the parmesan and stir to combine. Let the sauce simmer on low until ready to use. Stir occasionally.
Heat oil in a shallow cast iron pan for frying.
Create a dredging station by placing breadcrumbs into 1 bowl, and combining flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and water into another. For the wet badder the texture should resemble a thick pancake mix. Use a fork to stir into a smooth consistency.
Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds. Cut again into half moons if needed to fit better into sandwiches. Coat both sides of the eggplant in the wet badder and coat both sides with panko breadcrumbs. Repeat until all the eggplant is done.
Once the oil reaches 350 degrees F, gently add the eggplant and fry until crispy and golden on both sides. Work in batches if needed. Fry each piece 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat until all the eggplant is cooked.
To assemble the sandwiches: Cut baguette into desired sandwich size, layer 1 1/2 TBS of the vodka sauce on the bottom, top with eggplant, mozzarella and finish with arugula pesto on top. Serve immediately.
Careful not to layer too much of the vodka sauce on the bottom as it can get too wet. Substitute: Store bought vodka sauce, or marinara, and basil pesto. Heat sauce on low until warmed.