Juicy tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella, spicy arugula, fresh basil, and meaty grilled eggplant — this grilled eggplant caprese sandwich packs more veggies and flavor into every bite.
Where are my fellow sandwich lovers? I LOVE a good sandwich. Especially in the summer, sitting on our porch or at the beach. But I’m not talking a sad turkey and cheese on super thin sandwich bread. If I’m going to have a sandwich, it’s going to be filled with different flavors, textures, and lots of veggies.
Sandwiches get such a bad rep as being an “unhealthy” meal, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think most of that stems from people’s fear of carbs (or, more specifically, bread) these days. But many sandwiches also lack nutritious ingredients.
Why Carbs (and Bread) are not the Enemy
First, let’s clear up the carb confusion. Carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet. Our brains and muscles prefer glucose (the smallest form of carbohydrates) as fuel and our bodies will do anything they can to create glucose for our brain if we don’t provide our bodies with enough carbs, including break down protein either from food or our own muscle.
While diets that are very low in carbs may lead to weight loss (because you’re just eating less overall), as soon as you reintroduce carbs, you’ll gain it all back.
All forms of carbohydrates can be part of a healthy diet, but some will provide you with more beneficial nutrients, and these are the ones you want to eat most of the time. Complex carbohydrates offer fiber, which keeps you full, plus a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients important to overall health. Nutrient-rich carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, and beans/legumes. Technically all vegetables are carbohydrates, but the non-starchy vegetables like greens, peppers, cucumbers, etc. don’t provide a significant amount unless you eat pounds and pounds of them!
I break down the full truth about carbs over on the Purple Carrot Blog if you’d like to know more.
5 ways to upgrade your sandwich
- Choose whole grain bread. This task can be very confusing these days. The simplest way to find a whole grain bread is to ignore every claim that’s on the front of the package and focus solely on the ingredients. The first ingredient should read “whole” ___ (fill in the blank: grain, wheat, rye, etc.). It could also say sprouted whole grain or something to that effect. If it says “enriched” or just wheat (without the “whole”), move on. I prefer to go to the bakery section of the grocery store — those breads are fresher, hold up better on all that I’m going to put on my sandwich, and just plain taste better!
- Add lots of veggies. Think beyond lettuce and tomato and choose what is in season for the most flavor and nutrition. Today’s eggplant caprese features grilled eggplant with thick slices of tomato and arugula. I’ll add roasted red pepper, artichokes, grilled zucchini, matchstick carrots, beets, sweet potato, cucumbers…pretty much any veggie can go on a sandwich. Vegetables not only add a ton of beneficial nutrients, but they also add flavor and texture, making it a more satisfying meal. And don’t forget to pile on the greens! I added spicy arugula from my garden to today’s sandwich, but go with your favorite — any green works!
- Say goodbye to slimy, salty deli meats. The quality of your ingredients matter for both taste and nutrition! If I’m making a turkey sandwich, I’m using real turkey. I’ll use wild caught canned salmon for salmon salad, or a really sharp cheddar (or other cheese) if I’m adding cheese. For the eggplant caprese, I chose locally made whole milk fresh mozzarella that is so creamy it melts in your mouth. While it may be a little more expensive than the processed version at the store, I know I’m fueling my body with quality ingredients, and typically don’t need as much to get the best flavor.
- Flavor with fresh herbs. Basil is an obvious choice for this twist on a caprese, but fresh herbs can upgrade any sandwich! I like to add chives and dill to tuna or salmon salad, tarragon to chicken salad, or mint to Asian-style sandwiches. Grilling or roasting your vegetables with herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage, can also boost the flavor or your sandwich.
- Finish with a condiment upgrade. Think beyond bright yellow mustard and mayonnaise. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze, like on today’s caprese, can make your weekday sandwich taste restaurant quality! Try other flavors like mashed avocado, whole grain mustard like this one, pesto, tahini, hummus, or tzatziki.
If you love eggplant or caprese sandwiches, you might also love:
Or, you know, if you just need to use up those extra ingredients.
Did you make this grilled eggplant caprese?
Leave a comment letting me know what you thought about it and rate it in the recipe card below! Save it to your Pinterest board so you can find it later, and don’t forget to share a picture of your creation on instagram and tag me (@sarahgoldnutrition). I love seeing what you’re up to!
- 1 small eggplant sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
- Flakey sea salt, to taste
- 8 slices of whole grain bread
- 1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 1 large or two small tomatoes, sliced
- 1 cup arugula
- fresh basil leaves
- balsamic glaze
- Brush sliced eggplant with 1 Tbsp olive oil and toss with a pinch of salt. Grill over medium heat (about 400 degrees) for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you don’t have a grill, roast at 400F in the oven and follow the same directions.
- When eggplant is ready, layer eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, arugula, and basil on bottom slices of bread. Drizzle a little balsamic glaze and olive oil on top and then finish with top slice. Cut in half and enjoy!