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Meatless Monday: Grilled eggplant marinara sandwiches with a spicy kick

With a bit of smokiness from the grill, melted mozzarella and a tangy tomato sauce, what more could you ask for in a fabulous sandwich? You’ll find eggplant everywhere you look this summer, so put it to good use.


This sandwich is one of my summer favorites. Summer is all about grilling, and why exclude eggplants? Tossing eggplant slices onto the grill adds a nice smokiness to them that pairs well with marinara sauce. Speaking of marinara sauce, this one is so easy to make and adds a fabulous, slightly spicy flavor.


I added some jalapeño pepper and red pepper flakes to the marinara sauce to keep things interesting, and boy, is it tasty. You should have extra sauce left over after adding it to the sandwich rolls. Don’t waste it — serve it on the side, and use the rolls to soak it up. I guarantee this sandwich will become a summer favorite.

Grilled eggplant marinara sandwiches recipe

When you slice the eggplant, be sure it’s on the thin side, about 1/2 inch thick. I left the skin on for added texture and to help hold the tender eggplant together on the grill. These sandwiches are a summer treat.

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes


For the marinara sauce

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeds and membrane removed, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped

For the sandwich

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, washed and ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, then cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, evenly divided
  • 4 French-style hoagie rolls, sliced in half horizontally
  • Fresh basil ribbons, for garnish


For the marinara sauce

  1. To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the jalapeño, and cook for about a minute. Add the tomato sauce, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried rosemary and sugar. Stir to combine.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 4 minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  4. Turn off the heat, and add the basil. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat, and set aside.

For the sandwiches

  1. Brush the grill with the oil, then set it to medium-high heat. Sprinkle the eggplant pieces with salt and pepper on both sides. Once the grill is hot, reduce the heat to medium.
  2. Add the eggplant, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, watching so it doesn’t burn. The eggplant will gain dark grill marks and should be soft when done.
  3. To a baking sheet, add the bottom halves of the hoagie rolls. Add a few spoonfuls of the marinara sauce to each in a thick layer that covers the rolls.
  4. Add several eggplant pieces over the sauce (enough to cover the roll), and then sprinkle each with some of the mozzarella cheese. Add a bit more sauce if you like.
  5. Place under the oven’s broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese melts and the bread crisps up nicely. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
  6. Remove from the oven, garnish with the basil, and serve with the top halves of the hoagie rolls and extra marinara sauce.
  7. Serve warm.

meatless monday

More Meatless Monday recipes

Spicy chipotle sloppy Joes with creamy cilantro slaw
Roasted blueberry and arugula salad with lemon-Champagne vinaigrette
Seared tofu with mole sauce

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