This sandwich was created with Sam in mind and was inspired by a popular sandwich shop, Domenico’s, in our former town. Every time we visited the shop, Sam ordered the Melanzane, a grilled eggplant sandwich. Since we don’t get back to Domenico’s very often, I created my own version of the Melanzane. Oven-dried tomatoes are a treat by themselves, but pair them with grilled balsamic-glazed eggplant and zucchini, goat cheese and basil and you have a sandwich worthy of the most sophisticated wine-country picnic. The sandwich is a little juicy, so be ready to lick your fingers—you’ll want to savor every delicious drop of oil and vinegar from this sandwich.
The individual components of this sandwich do require a bit of prep work, but to streamline the recipe, grill the vegetables and oven-dry the tomatoes ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble your sandwich.
For oven-dried tomatoes:
Salt & pepper
For balsamic glazed eggplant & zucchini:
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
1 medium eggplant
2 medium zucchini
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
For the rest of the sandwich:
Crusty French bread (or your favorite bread)
Soft goat’s milk cheese (mozzarella works too)
Fresh basil leaves
Make the Melanzane Sandwich
Make the Oven-Dried Tomatoes. Preheat oven to its lowest setting. 200°F is ideal, but my oven only goes as low as 275°F, so I make it work. Slice the tomatoes in half and seed them by scooping the seeds out with your thumb. Arrange the tomatoes cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake until they are the consistency of plump raisins, anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on the size of the tomatoes and the oven temperature. My small-medium-sized tomatoes took 2½ hours in a 275° oven. Click here for more in-depth instructions for oven-drying tomatoes.
Grill the Eggplant and Zucchini. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey or brown sugar, and stir until honey or brown sugar dissolves. Remove the stems from the eggplant and zucchini and slice into ½-inch thick planks. Brush the eggplant and zucchini with olive oil. Grill the eggplant and zucchini until they have grill marks on one side and are lightly browned. Flip the slices over and brush on the balsamic glaze, making sure not to drip too much into the grill where it will burn. Let eggplant and zucchini cook for a few more minutes until the bottom side is browned. Flip vegetables and brush the other side with balsamic glaze. Once vegetables are cooked-through and have soaked up the glaze, remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Assemble the Sandwich. Slice bread in half and remove some of the excess bread filling in the center; you want to make a little cradle for the sandwich filling. Drizzle the cut side of both halves or bread slices with olive oil. Spread the top piece of the bread with goat cheese. Layer the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes on the bottom half of the bread. Place basil leaves on top of the vegetables and top with the other piece of bread. You can eat the sandwich immediately, but if you’re using a crusty bread, the sandwich will improve if the oils and vinegars from the veggies have a chance to seep into the bread.