Do people picnic after Labor Day?

Or is it one of those things, like wearing white in November, that will get me sneered at by every designer dog on the Upper East Side?

Maltipoo’s, goldmation’s, bea-tzu’s.  None of them spare judgment.


(I’m sure their owners are scrutinizing as well.

But with all the facelifts on this side of the island…it’s a little hard to tell.

Botox and the ability to show emotion. Mutually exclusive.

Although whether that’s really the result of plastic surgery or a consequence of being a WASP…

…up for debate.)


Well, just in case you’re kept up at night wondering what your neighbor’s Pekalier really thinks about you, I’ve got you covered.

This is the ultimate Labor Day picnic sandwich.

Grilled rosemary-infused eggplant covered in melted cheese and a tomato jam so luscious that you’ll feel compelled to drink it straight out of the pan.

But…maybe save your white jeans for another meal.

I take no responsibility for slurping-induced tomato stains.  Or the dry cleaning bill that will almost certainly accompany them.

Or the bills from your therapist when you can’t stop making this come November and the psychological trauma caused by the never-ending canine scrutiny you’ll undoubtedly be enduring becomes too much to handle.


Not to mention what your fellow bloggers will say about you when they realize that this is a Rachael Ray recipe.  Oops.

Rachael was actually number thirteen on Gourmet Live’s list of Women Game-Changers in Food.  Love her or hate her, you have to concede that she spurred women all over the US to get off their butts and into the kitchen.  And, at least, unlike a certain other food network personality who disgusts me more than words can say…her dishes do not come exclusively from a box.  And sometimes, they even taste good.  In the case of this one.  Really good.

To see some more Rachael recipes, check out these blogs:
Val – More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne – Eats Well With Others
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan – The Spice Garden
Claudia – A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather – girlichef
Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette – Healthy Living
April – Abby Sweets
Katie – Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary – One Perfect Bite
Kathleen –Bake Away with Me
Viola – The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue – The View from Great Island
Barbara – Movable Feasts
Kathleen – Gonna Want Seconds
Amy – Beloved Green
Jeanette – Healthy Living
Linda – Ciao Chow Linda 

PS – I only kiss and tell on bad dates.  And I’m not saying nothing.


Grilled Eggplant Subs with Fontina and Tomato Jam
Serves 4, adapted from Rachael Ray


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb tomatoes, chopped or a 15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 16 slices
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 oz arugula
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
  • 8 slices whole wheat Italian bread
  • 4 oz fontina


    1. Pre-heat a grill pan to medium-high or a broiler to high.  In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and rosemary, turn off heat and let steep for 3 minutes.


  • In a large skillet, combine 1 tbsp of the infused olive oil and the red onion over medium heat and cook until softened, 6-7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Lower the heat and cook until thickened, about 7 minutes.



  • Brush half the eggplant slices with the infused olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill or broil, flipping once, until tender – about 2-3 minutes per side.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant.



  • Toss the arugula and the basil together.



  • On one slice of bread, layer 4 eggplant slices.  Top with a handful of the arugula/basil mix, and one oz of sliced or grated fontina.  Grill or broil to melt the cheese.  Slather a second piece of bread with tomato jam and top the sandwich with it.


I am submitting this to Souper Sundays, hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen as well as to Deborah of Taste and Tell for Saturdays with Rachael Ray!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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110 Responses to Grilled Eggplant Subs with Fontina and Tomato Jam

  1. This looks insane! The ultimate rendition so to speak of a meatball sub but with eggplant and delicious jam! I love it and the ingredients are all so flavorful and rich I am sure it will be a favorite in my house and soon!

  2. Jeanette says:

    Now this is a sub I would enjoy – that tomato jam sounds amazing! I have to say Rachel Ray has some pretty good recipes up her sleeve, even though she does use some convenience foods. I’ve tried my share of her recipes, and haven’t been disappointed.

  3. Oh, yummy! Those subs look amazing and so tempting. What a great sandwich idea.

    Great clicks too!



  4. Sam says:

    I am kind of obsessed with tomato jam right now. I want to can some before the summer is over. This looks amazing.

    I have to admit, there are definitely Rachel Ray recipes that I love–spicy sweet potato pancakes with guacamole and pomegranate syrup? Yes please.

  5. First of all, yes, we absolutely do have to get together… and I best be hearing all about that not bad date when we do!

    Second of all, this recipe sounds delicious! Although I’m not a fan of watching Rachel Ray on TV, I have to admit, I really do like some of her recipes. I’m thinking this one is a winner.

  6. OohLookBel says:

    Fantastic looking sandwich, it’s the type that I salivate over at the cafe at work and end up pigging out on and falling asleep because of after lunch! PS: Good date? Good one!

  7. You had me at sub. I’m sold! Especially with some delicious eggplant!

  8. Say what you will about Rachael Ray … yum-oh! That’s one helluva sandwich!

  9. Dawn says:

    Rachel Ray….I have to admit, she has had her fair amount of bad press, but everything I have tried of hers has been really tasty. I do think I’m going to have to steal this one from you (and Rachel) and try it this weekend.

  10. I’d break all the after labor day rules and have a picnic with these sandwiches! Or I could just picnic in my living room:-)

    Rachael Ray never claimed to be a chef… so for all the bad commentary, at least she owns who she is!

  11. Eden says:

    Are carbs PC on the island? Or is that taboo?
    Its nearly illegal in LA, I don’t know if this sub would survive there.

  12. Candace says:

    You crack me up. I’m not a fan of that other girl either or another lady that shall remain nameless who uses way too much butter and must remain on MUTE if she is on the television at all in my house. Uggh. I like Rachael Ray. I have found her food hit and miss; but she doesn’t annoy me like she does a lot of people. Now about this sub…..I have never seen Eggplant look so fantastic and I love the stuff. With the crusty bread underneath and that gorgeous tomato jam on top not to mention fontina (love!), I am jonesing for eggplant subs for breakfast. Only you can do that to me. Have a great weekend, Candace

  13. Big Dude says:

    Another recipe to come along just when I need it. I have two eggplant in the fridge that I want to grill but do something more than just olive oil – this will be perfect. Your sandwich looks delicious beginning with that outstanding bread – there are some advantages of big city living.

  14. I don’t usually care for eggplant but Joanne, this sub looks amazing! That tomato jam rocks my world. 🙂

  15. Shannon says:

    Whoa. I’ve been eating eggplant this past week like I eat winter squash in October. But I’ve been running out of ideas so this is PERFECT! That Tomato Jam looks phenomenal! Glad to hear that your date wasn’t a “bad” one 😉

  16. Danielle says:

    I am all over this one – sounds great!

  17. Kim says:

    The pictures of this sub look incredible, Joanne! It’s like the color is just popping right off the page. Everything about it looks luscious, especially the jam.

    P.S. I can’t watch Rachael on TV, she talks way too much for me, but I don’t discriminate when it comes to recipes. Most of the time hers are actually really good, like this one.

  18. I don’t know about eggplant, but the tomato jam sounds like it would be delicious on a sammie. That’s what Rachel always calls them. hehe

  19. brandi says:

    That first picture is making me drool all over my keyboard. So delicious looking!

  20. tomato jam can easily be eaten with a spoon.
    and fast
    wouldn’t be pretty though watching me do it….

  21. MM says:

    I’m not a RR fan…so I’m glad you waited to tell me.

    Great way to combine the classic eggplant-tomato pairing!

  22. Shawnda says:

    Wow, now that’s a sandwich!

    And the source of the recipe doesn’t matter to me 🙂

  23. Picnics by the fireplace in December are perfectly acceptable. White after September 1, according to my sweet southern mother, is not acceptable!! This recipe sounds delicious for an anytime picnic if you ask me.


  24. I would like to eat this sandwich ASAP. Do you ship to Boston? 🙂

  25. Yum, yum, yum. Anytime of year. In any color jeans.

  26. So true – it seems like labor day really is the last of the picnics. So sad. I’ll admit that I’ve cooked Rachel Ray recipes before. And liked them. As long as I’m reading them out of a book and not listening to her say “EVOO”, I’m perfectly okay with her. This one looks great.

  27. Wow, Joanne. First recipe ever to tempt me to use eggplant. Nice job. That sandwich looks delicious.

    Don’t tell, but I’ve never actually watched anything on Food Network. Am I still allowed to be a food blogger? I was given a couple of her cookbooks and they looked alright, but I haven’t actually cooked anything from then yet.

    As for the other, uhm, celebrity “chef”? nope. “cook”? not really. uhm, weird chick that freaks me out? Yeah, that covers it. I found a video of her making some weird disaster of a decorated cake a few years ago and that turned me off to her completely. I can only imagine what other creations she’s come up with since then.

  28. OK I am sold to these……..
    They looks like heaven, I can eat them anytime, anywhere and endless amount…
    As for RAchel, I kind of find her cute, at least her approach to food is friendly but not to mention some of the others who just don’t click…
    God bless all..
    But for now lets Enjoy this baby and your photography

  29. I knew this was your sandwich the moment I spotted it on Foodgawker. Joanne this is fabulous.


  30. Do you live on the UES?? Me too! And I’ve totally gotten one of those looks from the dogs…usually when I make a run to the grocery store in my dirty t-shirt, sweats, and flipflops. Sadly, those pooches are usually dressed better than me.

  31. Christy says:

    Hello Joanne – I just had to comment on the tomato jam – it sounds amazing. I taught myself to can this summer and my favorite thing is the tomato jelly – it has bits of candied ginger and hot sauce in it along with tomato juice and sugar – and it is the bomb! Your sandwich looks out of this world! ;o)

  32. Eggplant is one of my fav vegetables..I can have it any day. These subs look so so great. I can believe that this recipe is so easy. I know I m going to love it!

  33. kankana says:

    I love grilled eggplant but never really had itin sub. Recently I made pizza with mashed eggplant and may be this is what I will try next 🙂

  34. So so yummy! The first click was really amazing!

  35. I recently tried tomato jam for the first time, its awesome. And tomatoes and eggplant is awesome too, so is this sandwich. And glad to hear the date went well:) Have a nice weekend

  36. I am not in love with most of RR’s recipes because they are usually so much more complicated than she makes them out to be. This one looks worth the effort though!


  37. Woah, these look really really good! Looks like such a savory sandwich with still be healthy. Yum. Thanks for sharing!

  38. I love tomato jam. You’re right about wanting to lick it right out of the pan! Sooo good. I like the idea of grilling the eggplant with the infused oil to give eggplant a more palatable taste. Great photos too.

  39. Tasha says:

    Everything about this sandwich has me wishing I could pluck it from the screen and eat it right now. I don’t think I’ve ever had tomato jam, and clearly I’ve been missing out from the sounds of it.

  40. I haven’t tried tomato jam before but i’m in love with it now!!

  41. Geni says:

    Your sure do know how to make eating vegetarian look like a reward and not a punishment. Maybe I should get my husband to start following your blog and then I could convert him.

  42. Wonderful subs! It makes Me want to take a bite off my computer screen.

  43. Rachel says:

    Whoa, Rachael Ray! I never would have guessed. Rachael Ray is fine with me!
    I was just thinking that I want to make tomato jam again. I made it last summer and LOVED it!

  44. Beautiful choice for this week. Looks divine!

  45. Katie says:

    I knew we were all cooking Rachael Ray recipes this week, but I still wouldn’t have guessed this was one of her recipes. It looks delicious, and I think people can still picnic after Labor Day. At least I’m planning to.

  46. Pam says:

    What a sandwich!!! The tomato jam looks amazing!

  47. Mary says:

    What a terrific choice, Joanne. It really looks delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  48. Gloria says:

    Amazing Joanne!! gloria

  49. bellini says:

    Rachel really does try and keep a lot of her meals healthy. These “sammies” as she would call them look deliciois Joanne.

  50. myfudo says:

    Look at that sumptuous eggplant stuff. That would be great or my diet program.

  51. Amy says:

    1. Ray Ray is completely annoying, but I concur…she can cook. I’ve enjoyed several of her recipes.

    2. But I haven’t seen this one. Hello. Looks DELISH. I might turn it into a panini.

    3. DUDE. You are such a tease! So the date went well??

  52. tigerfish says:

    Ha! Yes. No that “other food network personality” please!!!

  53. RR isn’t so bad. I tried her penne ala vodka, but preferred Cook’s Illutrated recipe, to be honest. But tomato jam – yeah! I had that in Morocco and it was great! Yum!

  54. Julie says:

    i wish i had the energy to be a med student and amazing chef and picture taker like you haha.

  55. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    This looks awesome! Plus not to mention your pictures look really great too 🙂 I love that this a Rachael Ray recipe. I think a lot of people judge her and have never even tried one of her recipes.

  56. Deborah says:

    You know that I am a huge RR fan!! And I’ve been seeing tomato jam everywhere lately. I think it’s a sign that I need to make some. (and you should totally come link this up to my Saturdays with Rachael Ray post tomorrow!!)

  57. Hannah says:

    You are just full of good ideas! I was all over the whole “grilling” thing for Labor Day, but what could be better to celebrate the close of summer than a full-on picnic? My weekend plans just got that much more exciting!

  58. I looooove your blog! New follower! xoxo 😀

  59. I have developed a recent appreciation for Rachel Ray based on some of her recipes lately and the brand she has built. This sandwich may have also raised her up another couple of notches–it looks fabulous.

    Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays too. 😉

  60. daphne says:

    ooooooooooooooo a good date hey!!!?! now u got me interested ;p I love a good sandwich anyday and this caught my eye straight away. Eggplant is my love and with tomato.. yum!

  61. Now this just looks amazing!! I love eggplant and will for sure be making this soon!!

  62. Kalyn says:

    OMG, you have outdone yourself with this one. The photo just pops off the screen and I’m seriously drooling. I want!

  63. Carolyn says:

    Rachel Ray or not, this is a delish recipe!!!

  64. I am going to risk arrest by the Food Fashion Police. Your sandwich looks AAA-mazing. Rachel ain’t got nothin’ on YOU.


  65. Martha (MM) says:

    I don’t care who came up with the recipe, it looks absolutely heavenly!! I’ve been craving eggplant lately, think this just put me over the edge and on my way to the grocery store!

    Thanks for the welcome back. Have a great long weekend 🙂

  66. Ha! I just blogged that I DO wear white after Labor Day. California rule. Every year, I promise that I will find a recipe that will make me like eggplant. Me thinks this could be “the one”. GORGEOUS photos. I love Rachael Ray’s recipes. As long as I’m not listening to her annoying voice, I’m good. Poor RR. She does get a lot of “hate”. I have to say, that on a work night, her recipes usually deliver.

  67. Megan says:

    That looks incredible! I have been on a little eggplant kick and made a flatbread last week that I still need to post.

  68. Elizabeth says:

    That looks delicious! I’ve recently started to get into cooking with eggplant since a Farmer’s Market opened at my office. I love how versatile it is.

  69. fantastic looking! I’m in eggplant heaven right now, thanks for another one to try!

  70. Catherine says:

    Looks like a wonderful and hearty sandwich, Joanne!
    Have a nice weekend! Blessings, Catherine~

  71. R. Grace says:

    I have been looking for more eggplant recipes to try since I just found out it’s my boyfriend’s favorite! Will have to whip this up this week.

  72. girlichef says:

    ha ha ha ha! And yes, this looks more than good- it looks fabulous! I say picnic whenever you want…whilst wearing your white pants and shoes ;P

  73. Kristen says:

    I think they do picnic well into the fall up there…especially in New England when the leaves are turning. Seems like I read something about it once 🙂 Do what you want girl and enjoy! That sandwich looks deeeeelish!

  74. Miranda says:

    You got me, I did not think this was a Rachael recipe – looks awesome! And yes, I am also with you on Sandra Lee. Gag me.

  75. teresa says:

    go rachael! and joanne! i’m pleasantly surprised by this recipe too, it looks fantastic!!

  76. Reeni says:

    It’s hard for me to admit these look good! I can’t believe she ( I promised never to say her name – kind of like on Harry Potter where noone wants to say Voldemort) made something like this – my mouth was watering over the tomato jam…

  77. I’m pretty sure there’s no rule about picnics after Labor Day- at least I hope there’s not. Rachel Ray does have some good recipes out there- this is one nice “sammie” with that eggplant and tomato jam. And for the record,we picnic all year long, weather permitting. 🙂

  78. Love the flavours, such a tasty dish!

  79. That is a great sammie. As annoying as RR is – all the recipes of hers that I have tried have been very tasty.
    And you have not been judged by a dog until Jedi has cast a disparaging look your way. Seriously, he has perfected the judge look.
    Date sounds promising!

  80. Foodycat says:

    I haven’t really experienced enough Rachel Ray to have an opinion one way or the other – but this tomato jam looks insanely good!

  81. Helene says:

    I think we should have picnics after Labor Day. Especially in the Fall when the leaves turn yellow-orange. That sandwich looks good and I also like RR recipes.

  82. Sofia says:

    dizammmn girl. this is one sexy sandwich! wheweee.

  83. Karen says:

    Dang, that tomato jam sounds amazing! I may just have to make some 🙂

  84. Chris says:

    My problem isn’t stains on my shirts. My problem is getting pinhole burns from when the coal pops during lighting with a gas torch. I’ve learned to change out of my dress shirts when I get home before firing up the grill…..mostly. Sometimes I forget and Alexis gets to roll her eyes 🙂

  85. RR definitely has some recipes that are great…and this one looks like it can be included in that group! And although I’m sure you’re aware, I will say that it’s totally okay to wear white after Labor Day…UES sneers or not 🙂

  86. Bwah haha! You called out SL! When I first started cooking two years ago, I took her so seriously. I didn’t realize she was a fembot intent on exterminating the food world one cook at a time.

    I do like Rachael Ray, though, but less for the food and more for the way she manages to get every single ingredient, utensil and bowl into her arms and over to her workstation in a single trip. Santa should really recruit her as an elf! Thanks for the recipe!

  87. What a great photo of a wonderful looking and sounding sandwich. You can wear white no matter the season. The trendy people keep coming up with a different name for it each season and varying the shade so we have to go out and buy the proper shade.

  88. Jackie says:

    Eggplant is one of those vegetable that I haven’t tried yet. This recipe certainly looks delicious though. I will have to try it.

  89. Hey sister, I love these! I was disappointed though (kidding), that you did not use pomegranate molasses. Instead you used balsamic, which according to my brother, can be a divine elixir. Great sandwich!

  90. newlywed says:

    Am literally drooling, though I am not a designer dog. If I were a dog, I’d be a mutt, probably. But I digress.

    These look great…and I totally love Rachael Ray and have all of her cookbooks. I’ve only made one recipe from her that we didn’t love!

  91. Raina says:

    Man this looks great! I really like Rachel Ray. To me she is real, and I like real. I have tried a bunch of her recipes and all have been really good. This one looks like a winner. As Rachel would say…YUM-O!

  92. Carolyn Jung says:

    Prettiest sammy ever! I think picnics are perfect any day, and in any weather. It’s just a state of mind. 😉

  93. I hate eggplants… But man, does this look good.

  94. Sounds like an awesome sandwich! Love the tomato jam here, yum!

  95. Shu Han says:

    that looks so so so good! I love eggplant grilled, funnily i just shared a recipe for grilled/roasted eggplant with satay peanut sauce! now I’m looking at yours and craving eggplant again!

  96. Miriam says:

    Delisioso!!! Have a great holiday 🙂
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  97. oh yummmm the combo looks fantastic! i am so inspired to make eggplant sandwich now!

  98. Kelly says:

    Now that is one gorgeous looking sandwich. Fantastic ingredients as always – love the tomato jam!!

  99. Johanna GGG says:

    yes to tomato jam and no to white trousers – I have my priorities right – could you please pack my lunch for me?

  100. Elizabeth says:

    That tomato jam looks insane. Area Four makes a tomato jam that they put on mozzarella and it’s fabulous.

  101. grace says:

    i’m always up for an excuse to break out the pic-a-nic basket, even if the ground is wet or the sky is dark. i love these subs, and the tomato jam in particular!

  102. What a great sub! You photography is eye candy to me. Hope school is going well for you this semester!

  103. Maureen says:

    I love tomato jam with anything but this sandwich looks fantastic!

  104. Marisa says:

    Stains on white clothes (some eating-related, some not) are one of the main reasons why I’m always hesitant to buy white pants or shirts. Or heaven forbid dresses. It’s a miracle I didn’t end up with ultra-stained wedding dress pics. 🙂

    And I believe you on that tomato jam – it looks & sounds absolutely divine. And of course you know I’m a sucker for aubergine. All set then!

  105. i’m pretty sure tomato jam is one of the best things since sliced bread. SERIOUSLY

  106. I’m not really a sandwich person but this sounds amazing with the tomato jam and rosemary infused olive oil yummm.

  107. Words can not describe how delicious those sandwiches look. You are a artist when it comes to cooking.

  108. aterrao says:

    I really like your recipes. There is a new platform where you can upload them and are seen with a design adapted to iPad. You can also link to your blog, get statistics… It is

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