balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches

This is the eggplant recipe that made me realize eggplant is not so fussy after all: it need not be salted and drained; it need not be breaded and fried.

A simple brush of olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar followed by 20 minutes in a hot oven, and it’s good to go.

I wrote about this recipe nearly three years ago for Food52, but I made it again recently and was just as wowed by how simple and good it is.

The recipe comes from Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year. A friend had texted me a photo of the eggplant and arugula sandwiches, and I made the sandwiches immediately for dinner that night, then again the following evening, and then again and again. When the eggplant in our CSA begin arriving, this is the recipe I turn to most often.

This sandwich is as simple as it gets: there’s no fancy aioli, herby pesto, or textured relish to add “dimension”; just salted butter. And just as well. The minimalist combination really allows the eggplant to shine.

I love what Ruth says: “Eggplant is usually the chameleon of the vegetable kingdom, so accommodating that if often disappears. Here it finally has a chance to star.”


eggplant, brushed with oil and vinegar

balsamic-roasted eggplant on a sheet pan

an open eggplant and arugula sandwich

balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches

balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches

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balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches

Balsamic-Roasted Eggplant & Arugula Sandwiches

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5 from 2 reviews

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These balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches are so simple, summery, and satisfying. There’s no fancy sauce or condiment here, just salted butter. I like making these overnight rolls: Overnight Sandwich Rolls.


  • 4 Japanese or baby eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 baguettes or 4 homemade rolls
  • Salted butter, softened
  • 1 bunch arugula


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Slice eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips and lay strips on an oiled or parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet.
  2. Mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a dish. Brush vinegar-oil mixture across top of each slice of eggplant. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper over the top. Roast for about 10 minutes. Turn slices over, brush with oil mixture, season with salt and pepper, and roast for another 8 minutes or so. Cool.
  3. Cut baguettes lengthwise in half and spread each half generously with the softened butter.
  4. Place eggplant slices on the bread and top with arugula leaves. Close sandwiches and serve.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Roast
  • Cuisine: Italian