A great source of recipe inspiration is restaurant menus. The better I get at cooking, the less we eat out when we could make the same thing for less money at home. Last fall I went to a local restaurant for several work-related lunches, and after trying their eggplant parmesan panini, I could never bring myself to order anything else. I am always a sucker for grilled sandwiches, and in fact this is the sandwich that is responsible for me liking eggplant in the first place.
To make these at home, I made my regular eggplant parmesan recipe one evening and prepared extra slices of the breaded and baked eggplant to use for the sandwiches a couple nights later. At least for me, breading and baking the eggplant and then making it into a sandwich just seemed like too much work for one weeknight dinner but the leftover method worked just fine. Of course you can make these in a regular skillet, but I just love the great flavor and pretty grill marks that come from my cast iron grill pan and panini press. These were definitely a hit with our family, and Andrew ate so much that I ended up having to make extra sandwiches just so I could have dinner myself!
Eggplant Parmesan Paninis
Yield: 2 sandwiches
4 slices artisan bread, such as sourdough or Italian
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Breaded and baked eggplant slices
Prepared marinara sauce
Fresh basil, roughly chopped
Heat a well-oiled grill pan/panini press over medium-high heat. Lay out bread slices on a work surface. Brush one side of each piece of bread lightly with olive oil. Flip over so non-0iled side is facing up. On two of the bread slices, layer mozzarella cheese and baked eggplant slices. Spoon a thin layer of marinara sauce over the eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with chopped basil. Top with the remaining bread slices, so that the oiled side is facing outward.
Cook the sandwiches on the preheated grill pan until warmed through, so that the bread is nicely browned and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Source: Annie’s Eats, inspired by R Bistro