This Mediterranean eggplant sandwich is all vegan with generous layers of muhammara, fried eggplant, sauerkraut, and more! Perfect for on-the-go lunches and picnics. A few simple tricks will take this delicious sandwich to the next level!
🥪 Eggplant Sandwich
After having the eggplant sandwich at Seed Bakery in Pasadena for the first time, I was blown away. Their pomegranate-walnut relish combined with fried eggplants was so, so good...
Since we moved away, I finally recreated a similar sandwich.
This version is made with muhammara: a roasted bell pepper & walnut dip with olive oil and pomegranate molasses.
My husband called it the best thing he's eaten in at least a month—and he tastes things for a living!
This sandwich is perfect for packing and enjoying on the go. We brought it along for hiking, to the beach, and to the office so far.
The worst part has always been having to wait until lunchtime to eat it.
In fact, one time we just couldn't wait and ate our sandwiches before getting out the door... right after breakfast. Too. Delicious. Once you give it a try, I'm pretty sure you'll agree!
Here are the ingredients we're using to build our sandwich:
Muhammara is a rich, mildly sweet, and tangy roasted bell pepper & walnut dip whose roots are mainly associated with the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Ours is made with a store-bought jar of roasted red bell peppers to simplify things, toasted walnuts, tangy pomegranate molasses, and delicious spices.
If you'd like an even quicker-to-make substitute, mix some harissa, gochujang or Turkish pepper paste with chili flakes and crushed walnuts.
Fried (or Roasted) Eggplants
Use Italian (smaller) eggplants if possible, but the regular kind will work just as well. I wouldn't recommend Japanese eggplants for this recipe.
You could peel them completely, but I like to leave some of the skin on for extra flavor.
If the eggplants you usually buy are often bitter, make sure to salt & dry them first. Although the bitter taste has been bred out of the modern eggplant, there may be areas where this isn't the case.
If that's you—start by liberally salting all sides and place in a colander to sweat. You'll likely be surprised by all the water that drips out!
After about half an hour, thoroughly dry the eggplant slices with cloth napkins or paper towels.
Sauerkraut, Pickles, & Herbs
To bring as much flavor and color as possible, I love to use red cabbage sauerkraut, dill pickles, and cilantro.
Of course, you may substitute and use your favorite variations of these—like parsley instead of cilantro.
A drizzle of pomegranate molasses brings a tangy and rich flavor to this already delicious sandwich.
The muhammara also has this ingredient blended in, so we're just amplifying the taste by adding more.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Use the freshest olive oil you can find, if possible. Think of olive oil like juice, the longer it sits on store shelves, the less flavor (and polyphenols) it will have!
Having said all that, regular EVOO will work too, of course. I just like to make suggestions to make things even more flavorful. 🙂
Bread & Raw Garlic
I recommend using a rustic loaf of sourdough bread for this sandwich. But you could use Wonder Bread and it'd still be delicious—toasting the slices in olive oil and rubbing raw garlic on will make sure of that!
See the recipe card at the end for quantities.
🔪 Instructions to Make the Mediterranean Eggplant Sandwich
Make the Muhammara:
Place the walnuts into a small pan on medium-high heat, and toast for 5-7 minutes until fragrant.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend until mostly smooth, about one minute.
If you have an immersion blender, you can mix everything in a bowl and blend there—or simply use the roasted pepper jar after draining it.
Pan Fry the Eggplant:
Peel (or half-peel) the eggplant and slice into ½-inch thick rounds. Place a large skillet on medium heat and warm the olive oil.
Spread the eggplant slices onto the skillet in a single layer and pan-fry for about 5 minutes on each side.
...or Roast Them:
I highly recommend pan-frying the eggplants, but roasting is another option! Preheat the oven to 450°F (240°C).
Line a tray with parchment paper, place the eggplant slices on the sheet, then brush with olive oil and salt. Roast for 20 minutes.
Turn, and roast for another 10 minutes until the eggplants are softened and the edges are caramelized.
You could even deep fry the eggplant for more texture! Just like in this delicious Serious Eats vegan torta recipe made with crispy eggplant.
Once you have the fried eggplant and muhammara ready, the rest is simply toasting the bread and layering!
Toast & Flavor the Bread:
Turn the stove to medium-high and spread olive oil onto a large pan. Place the slices of bread into the pan and toast until golden, about 1-2 minutes on each side.
Once the bread is toasted, rub a halved clove of raw garlic onto the sides facing in.
Build the Sandwich:
Start layering with muhammara, fried eggplant, a drizzle of olive oil and pomegranate molasses, sauerkraut, pickles, and chopped cilantro.
I list exact amounts for each layer but feel free to use as much of each ingredient as you wish. This is a very forgiving recipe!
Cover in parchment paper or aluminum foil and cut in half, then place into a container or Ziploc bag to take on the road... if you can wait that long to enjoy it of course!
This sandwich is amazingly delicious as is, but in case you'd like to make a few changes, here are some suggestions:
- Muhammara - use harissa, gochujang, or Turkish pepper paste instead. You'll likely use smaller amounts than muhammara to balance the higher salinity of these condiments.
- Eggplant - zucchini or potato would work great in place of eggplants in case you're not a fan! In Turkey, a combination of fried eggplant, zucchini, and potato sandwich is a staple in many a grandma's kitchens under the name "ekmek arası kızartma".
- Gluten-Free - use gluten-free bread instead of regular, and omit or replace the breadcrumbs in the muhammara to make this gluten-free.
Store each ingredient (e.g. muhammara, fried eggplant) separately in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days—or freeze for up to 3 months.
For best results, toast the bread and build the sandwich right before enjoying it.
🌱 More Mediterranean Recipes
Craving more eggplant? Try the vegan moussaka with a creamy béchamel sauce:
Did you make this Mediterranean eggplant sandwich recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a star🌟 rating below. This helps me run Aegean Delight and I always appreciate it 🙂Print
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