This recipe is a texture adventure: fluffy focaccia, fruity cherry tomatoes, charred eggplant, smooth ricotta and pea pesto... go ahead and put on a blindfold while you're eating it for an even more mind-blowing experience.
1 large or 2 medium eggplants , cut in ½ inch thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 stem of basil (3-4 leaves, on the stem)
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup basil
¼ cup spinach leaves
2 tablespoons walnuts
¼ cup blanched peas
⅓ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
ciabatta, sliced sourdough loaf, or focaccia (for the ciabatta or focaccia cut it into chunks and then across instead of slicing)
Preheat the oven to 425
Arrange the sliced eggplant spaced out on a sheet pan lined with a towel, sprinkle generously with salt on both sides and let rest with another towel on top for 15 minutes. Wipe any moisture off the eggplant, drizzle both sides with olive oil and salt, and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Eggplant should be golden and not dry, add more oil if the eggplant is dry or spongey.
At the same time place the cherry tomatoes and basil in a small baking dish with the olive oil, and a generous sprinkle of salt. Make sure the dish or pan is small so that the tomatoes are at least half submerged in the oil. Roast at 425 until blistered and browning slightly. Set aside.
Make the pesto in the food processor or blender, combine the first four ingredients and pulse into a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle in the olive oil until a cohesive paste forms.
Assemble the sandwiches, layer the ricotta and tomatoes with some of the oil on the bottom and the pesto on top. Layer the eggplant in between. Keep ingredients on hand for a quick lunch or pack them up for a sandwich on the go.
(makes about 4 sandwiches)