My family is obsessed with three things: chicken parmesan, sandwiches, and garlic bread. This recipe is inspired by all those loves, but I’m giving it a meatless twist. The garlic bread offers incredible flavor and crunch, and the eggplant is hearty and delicious, making it a quick yet exciting dish for entertaining or a casual evening.
Technical advice: Salt the eggplant before cooking to remove excess moisture and ensure a crispier cooked texture. It is not necessary to salt eggplant to eliminate bitterness. Pan-fry the garlic cloves to speed up the garlic cooking time for the garlic bread.
Exchange options: Ciabatta can be swapped out for any other Italian bread like focaccia or rustic Italian bread. Eggplants can be replaced with zucchini. If you can’t find burrata, try using fresh mozzarella.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Place eggplant slices on baking sheets. Season the eggplants with salt on both sides and let stand for 5-10 minutes to remove excess moisture.
In a large, heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet, cook the garlic cloves over medium heat with a layer of neutral oil for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon or spider, remove the cloves from the oil and transfer them to a medium bowl.
In the same medium bowl, crush the cooked garlic cloves with the back of a spoon into a paste. Add butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and chopped parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the garlic butter on the split sides of the bread. Place the bread in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden and toasted.
Meanwhile, pat the eggplant dry and prepare a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Heat the reserved garlic-infused oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until shimmering. Working in batches, add the eggplants in a single layer and cook, 5 to 6 minutes per side, using tongs to flip, until golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplants.
To serve, lay a layer of torn burrata over the base of the garlic bread. Top with eggplant slices, drizzle with warmed tomato sauce and garnish with remaining parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
Close the sandwich, cut it into 6 (or 4 large) portions and enjoy!