I love sandos, and while this recipe calls for you to have it open face, I personally am not a super big fan of that. Instead, I happily took another slice of sourdough and topped it off (less messy). In general though, this sandwich is super satisfying because the eggplant shines while pairing super well with the walnuts and ricotta. Enjoy!
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- Big pinch of sugar
- Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, divided
- 1 small eggplant (about 8 oz.), sliced ¼" thick
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup basil leaves
- ¾ cup fresh whole-milk ricotta
- ¼ tsp. honey
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 slices country-style bread, toasted
- Green leaf, red leaf, or romaine lettuce leaves (for serving)
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine red onion, sugar, a big pinch of salt, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, and 2 Tbsp. hot water in a small bowl. Let sit, tossing occasionally, until you’re ready to assemble sandwiches.
Brush eggplant rounds generously with oil on one side. Heat a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high. Working in batches if needed, cook eggplant in skillet, oil side down, in a single layer, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Brush each round with oil, turn over, and cook until other side is browned and eggplant is tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish or wide shallow bowl.
Whisk 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. oil and remaining 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar in another small bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper. Pour over eggplant, toss gently to coat, and set aside.
Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pile on a cutting board along with basil. Add a pinch of salt and finely chop. Transfer to a clean small bowl and add ricotta and honey. Finely grate in garlic and mix well; season with salt and pepper.
Spread ricotta mixture over toast. Top with lettuce leaves, pickled onion, and reserved eggplant.