- 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts (consider freshly toasted sunflower seeds as a cheaper alternative)
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Consider fresh lemon juice and/or other fresh herb combinations
- 1 large globe eggplant (about 2 pounds)
- Olive oil
- 8 slices country bread
- 8 slices ripe tomatoes
- 1 bunch arugula, rinsed and dried, stems trimmed (consider turnip greens as an alternative to arugula)
- 4 thin slices provolone cheese
Vinaigrette: In a food processor, combine the basil, thyme, garlic, pine nuts, and vinegar. Process until finely chopped, scraping down the sides as needed. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream. Adjust seasonings if needed.
Eggplant: Partially peel the eggplant length-wise, leaving 1/2-inch stripes of skin. Slice the eggplant 1/2-inch thick, sprinkling the slices generously with salt. Let stand in a colander for about 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly, gently squeezing each slice dry; pat down with paper towels. Light a grill fire. Brush the slices generously with olive oil. Over a part of the grill that’s medium hot, grill the slices until soft and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
Grill the bread slices until lightly toasted. Brush the eggplant, tomatoes, and slices of bread with the vinaigrette. Assemble each sandwich with arugula leaves, eggplant, tomatoes, and cheese. Slice each sandwich and serve.