Just like grandma used to make, my grilled eggplant sandwich is marinated, then grilled, topped with tofu feta cheese, pickled onions, tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, and drizzled with a lemony tahini sauce.
I love Greek food, so I often recreate my Greek grandma's recipes, like her grilled eggplant sandwich. Most kids aren't fond of eggplant, but when you grow up in a Greek family, you quickly learn to appreciate eggplant. My grilled eggplant sandwich recipe is healthier than grandma used to make, but it tastes just as delicious.
On Sundays, my grandparents took my sister and me to Greektown in Detroit for the best Greek food I've ever eaten. In fact, before moving to Arizona, I spent many weekends visiting my favorite Greek restaurants as an adult.
Because I love Greek food and all the flavors and spices from my childhood, I enjoy making healthy Greek food for my family to enjoy.
I decided to use grilled eggplant as the''meat'' for my sandwich recipe tonight. Eggplant has a great texture when prepared correctly.
How to Marinate and Grill Eggplant
First, slice the eggplant evenly into two equal-sized slices. Next, I used my mandolin slicer to make uniform slices; then, I salted the pieces to take out the bitterness of the eggplant. Then, I flipped it over and salted the other side.
Although many people skip this step, salting the eggplant brings out the buttery taste while removing some of the water. Because no one likes soggy eggplant or a soggy sandwich.
After about 30 minutes, rinse the salt from the eggplant. Then, marinated it in lemon, garlic, and some Greek spices.
Once marinated, grill the eggplant slices on a 375-degree grill.
Even though I often use grilled mats, I prefer to cook eggplant directly on the grill for the beautiful grill marks. It takes about 4 minutes per side, on low heat.
- Whole-grain Hoagie Buns: Most bread in the fresh bakery section of the grocery store is oil-free. And, if you want less bread, remove some of the bread from each side of the bun, and create a well for all the ingredients to fit inside.
- Eggplant: Eggplant has a flavor similar to summer squash or zucchini: tender, mild, and sweet with a slight vegetal bitterness. Eggplant will absorb the flavor of whatever it's cooked with.
- Lemon juice: I prefer fresh lemon juice. For additional lemon flavor, add zest.
- Garlic: Garlic has a unique, savory flavor that borders on spicy when raw and nutty when cooked.
- Oregano: Oregano's taste is sweet, spicy, and peppery.
- Salt: Salt brings out the umami flavors in recipes. A little salt is all you need.
- Pepper: Black pepper is delicious and has a range of different flavors.
- Tomato: Tomato flavor is commonly described as sweet, tart, tangy or balanced.
- Pickled Red Onions: I make my own pickled red onions. Pickled onions are tangy, a bit sweet, and crunchy all at the same time.
- Tofu Feta Cheese: I make my own tofu feta cheese. Vegan feta cheese adds a creamy, salty component to the sandwich.
- Romaine Lettuce: Romaine lettuce is crunchy and brings a freshness to the eggplant sandwich.
- Parsley: Parsley and eggplant go hand in hand. Parsley enhances the taste of eggplant, garlic, and lemon.
- If you don't like bread, try using lettuce as a bun or wrap.
- Choose pita bread or a wrap instead of a Hogie bun.
- If you don't care for eggplant, try portobello mushrooms or grilled zucchini instead.
- Substitute raw red onions or yellow onions for the pickled onions.
- Skip the tofu feta cheese if you avoid soy. Or purchase vegan feta cheese at your grocery store.
- Basil is an excellent substitute for parsley in this eggplant sandwich recipe.
- Try any lettuce or greens.
To complement the marinated grilled eggplant, I made a lemony tahini sauce.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves bring a warm and earthy flavor to the dressing.
- Sea Salt: Sea salt offers a strong flavor and a less salty taste. Placing a small amount of this natural salt on your tongue offers a sweeter and pleasant taste after a while.
- Tahini (Middle Eastern sesame paste): Tahini isn't sweet like most nut butter; the nutty flavor and is earthy and can be a little bitter.
- Fresh Lemon Juice: I prefer fresh lemon juice for this dressing. If you use bottled lemon juice, add a couple of teaspoons more than if using fresh juice.
- Water: Water thins the dressing like an emulsifier.
- Dill: Dill has a deliciously fresh, citrus-like taste, with a slightly grassy undertone.
- Sumac: Made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac flower, sumac is a tangy spice with a sour, acidic flavor reminiscent of lemon juice. This fragrant spice is used to brighten up dry rubs, spice blends like za'atar, and dressings.
- Cumin: Rich and hearty, earthy and warm with an edge of citrus; Cumin adds instant depth to any dish. Use ground Cumin rather than whole Cumin seed in recipes where you want the flavor to disperse evenly throughout.
- If you are looking for a different sauce without tahini, I suggest using oil-free hummus. To make hummus similar to a sauce, add a little lemon juice and red wine vinegar to an oil-free hummus. Then, whisk together, and it thins it perfectly for an oil-free sauce option.
- Try replacing the tahini with an equal amount of peanut butter and sunflower seed butter.
- Or, try plain vegan yogurt, chopped roasted peppers, and kalamata olives blended.
- Sumac replacements range from lemon zest, lemon pepper, lemon juice, or vinegar to replicate the tart flavor of sumac.
- Substitute ground coriander for Cumin.
- Choose bottled lemon juice if fresh lemon juice isn't available.
If you don't like eggplant, try zucchini or portobello mushrooms. Like eggplant, salt the zucchini to remove some excess water. However, do not salt the mushrooms.
For a peppery taste, substitute arugula for the Romaine lettuce. Raw spinach is another excellent choice for a sandwich. I also enjoy dill pickle chips.
- Marinating and grilling the eggplant slices in advance saves time. Marinate, grill, and refrigerate the eggplant slices in the leftover marinade for extra flavor. When making the grilled eggplant sandwich, reheat it when broiling the bread in the oven.
- When lemons are in season, juice them and freeze them in ice cube trays to have fresh lemon juice all year round. It's convenient as wIt'sas inexpensive if you juice lemons in season.
- If you don't want bread, tIt's wrap, collard green, or large Romaine lettuce leaf, and add the same sandwich ingredients.
- Instead of tahini dressing, thin out some oil-free hummus with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Whisk and use as a sauce substitution.
- Complement the grilled eggplant sandwich recipe by adding a salad with Mediterranean flavors and spices.
Try grilling some eggplant this weekend for this grilled eggplant sandwich. It's a great summer sandwich!
Try These Summer Sandwich Recipes
If you love this grilled eggplant sandwich, give us a 5-star review and comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
- 1 large eggplant slice into equal-sized ½ inch slices
- Generous amounts of salt for eggplant to remove the bitter taste and remove excess water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 large hot house tomato cut into cubes
- ½ cup pickled red onions or raw red onions
- ½ cup tofu feta cheese
- ½ head romaine lettuce chopped
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste
- ½ cup well-stirred tahini Middle Eastern sesame paste
- ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 whole grain hoagie buns
- ½ recipe Tofu Feta Cheese optional
- Slice eggplant into ½ inch slices (I used a Mandoline)
- Lay slices on a cookie sheet and generously salt; set aside
- After 30 minutes, flip slices over and salt again; set aside
- Then, rinse all salt off the eggplant and place it on paper towels to dry
- Combine marinade ingredients
- Lay eggplant back on cookie sheet; pour marinade over the top and cover
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
TAHINI DRESSING OR SUBSTITUTE OIL-FREE HUMMUS FOR A LOWER FAT OPTION
- In a one-cup blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth.
- TIP: Add tahini last to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the blender
- Cut tomatoes and lettuce; set aside
- If using raw red onions, cut into slivers or drain pickled red onions and place on a paper towel to dry.
- Pre-heat grill to low
- Place eggplant slices directly on the grill
- Cook 4 minutes on each side; set aside
- Preparing the sandwich
- Turn the oven on broil on low
- Place hoagie buns slightly open and place them on a baking sheet
- Broil for 3 minutes until lightly toasted.
- Remove from the oven and place grilled eggplant into the center of the bun; add a small about of tofu feta cheese.
- Return to the oven for 2 minutes to heat slightly.
- Remove from the oven and add lettuce, tomato, onions, parsley, and top with tahini sauce.
- For a lower-fat option, skip the tahini and use oil-free hummus instead.
- Roll like a burrito, pulling both sides in and rolling tightly.
- I served with oil-free steak fries.
- For a lower-fat sauce option, substitute tahini with the oil-free hummus of choice.
- Salting the eggplant helps to remove extra moisture. But, don't worry about the sodium content, the salt is rinsed off before marinating and cooking the eggplant.
- If you don't like eggplant, use the exact same recipe using zucchini.
- Portobello mushrooms are also great with this marinade, but skip the salting step, because the mushrooms do not need to be salted like the eggplant or zucchini.
- If you want to eat less bread, try removing the inside of each side of the bun, being careful not to break through the crusty part. This reduces bread and creates a well to hold all the ingredients.
- A great way to have fresh lemon juice all year round is to juice lemons while in season and freeze them in ice cube trays to use in dressings and sauces.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂