If you don’t want to make the pickled onions, I suggest subbing sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers.
from Bon Appétit.
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- Big pinch of sugar
- Kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
- 1 small eggplant (about 8 oz.), sliced ¼” thick
- 1 Tablespoons 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 teaspoons honey
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 slices country-style bread, toasted
- for serving: Green leaf, red leaf, or romaine lettuce leaves
- Preheat oven to 350°F. 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.