Grilled Vegetable & Fresh Ricotta Sandwiches

One of our absolute favorite dinner sandwiches is filled with garlicky grilled eggplant and feta cheese. After seeing this recipe, I kept thinking about making this version on freshly baked sourdough bread. I loved the idea of slathering the bread with fresh ricotta cheese too. Yum!

The recipe was adapted from SaraMoulton.com. I used my favorite recipe for fresh ricotta and served the sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread. I added garlic and grilled the vegetables instead of roasting them as well. We ate them with creamy cucumber-avocado salad on the side. It was an amazing vegetarian meal.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 medium to large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 6 to 8 Campari tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • fresh ricotta cheese (see Note)
  • 8 slices of no-knead sourdough bread, crusty bread, or whole grain bread
  1. The evening before serving the meal, start the homemade sourdough bread process, if using. Bake the bread the day of the meal. (Alternatively, use another crusty bread or whole grain bread.)
  2. Place the vegetable slices in a single layer on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crush the garlic cloves with a garlic press and spread the garlic over the top of the eggplant slices. Let rest a minimum of 30 minutes (the longer the better).
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the fresh ricotta cheese. I made it according to the recipe but simmered the mixture for approximately 5 minutes, until it was visibly curdling. I strained it for about 15 minutes and omitted the addition of lemon zest. (The longer it is strained, the thicker the consistency.) Set aside.
  4. Brush both sides of the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil. Toss the zucchini slices with olive oil.
  5. Grill the vegetables separately until slightly charred and tender; grill the eggplant directly on the grates and grill the zucchini and tomato slices using a grill basket. (Alternatively, the vegetables can be roasted on parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets in a 425 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.)
  6. Divide the warm ricotta among 4 slices of bread and top with the hot vegetables and remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: Making fresh ricotta can have varied results- sometimes it has large curds, sometimes it has small curds and occasionally it has no curds. If this should happen to you, don’t panic, just add another tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and the curds will appear.

Shortcut Vegetarian Enchiladas with Butternut Squash & Black Beans

This crowd-pleasing casserole uses store bought enchilada sauce as a shortcut. I peeled and cut a butternut squash, but using pre-cut squash would be another easy shortcut. It was a wonderful vegetarian dish.

This recipe was adapted from Skinnytaste.com. I modified the proportions, used Monterey Jack cheese, and substituted corn tortillas for flour tortillas. I served the enchiladas with brown Basmati rice, refried beans, and Trader Joe’s Mexican street corn. Great!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 12 oz bottle of enchilada sauce (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch-dice
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 10 oz can “original” Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 corn tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
  • sour cream, for serving, optional (low-fat okay)
  • brown Basmati rice and refried beans, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish. (I used a ceramic 9×13-inch baking dish.)
  3. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno and cook 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add cubed butternut squash, Rotel tomatoes, black beans, water, cilantro, cumin and chili powder and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. (Add more water if the mixture looks dry.)
  5. At the end of the cooking time for the filling, steam the tortillas. Place the corn tortillas in a tortilla warmer or on a plate and place a damp paper towel on top. Cover tightly (using plastic wrap if using a plate), and microwave for approximately 1 minute, or until they are warm and pliable. Keep covered until ready to fill.
  6. Place a generous 1/4 cup filling in the center of each tortilla and roll to close, placing in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with the remaining filling. (I used a dry measuring cup to ration the filling.)
  7. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and shredded cheese.
  8. Bake, covered with foil until the sauce is bubbling and hot and the cheese is melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Top with scallions and cilantro. Serve with sour cream, rice, and/or refried beans, as desired.

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