I made a few changes to suit my desire to "make it my own," since I'm watching (and loving) this season of Next Food Network Star, though this is about as far as I go at making anything my own. And if you, like me, are hesitant to make a panini because you have neither a panini press nor a grill pan, remember that you're basically making a squished grilled cheese. I used a pot and a teakettle to act as the press, flipped when crispy, and then pressed again.
Eggplant Panini, slightly adapted from Delish
- 1 Eggplant
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1/2 cup Panko Bread crumbs
- Black pepper
- 1t Italian seasoning
- 1t crushed red pepper
- 1t garlic powder
- Approximately 3 TBSp Olive Oil
- Italian Sub Rolls or full Italian Bread, sliced into sandwich sizes
- 1 Beefsteak Tomato
- Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
- Fresh Basil
- Approximately 2-3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Approximately 2-3 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Clean, peel, & slice the eggplant length-wise. Set up your bowls for dredging: place the egg in a shallow dish (8x8 Pyrex dish works great!), and combine the bread crumbs and spices in another. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg, then in the bread crumb mixture, pressing to stick. Heat the 3 TBSp Olive Oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat. Place the eggplant in the saute pan, and cook until it is golden, about 2-3 minutes each side. Allow to cool on a paper towel lined plate.
After the eggplant is cooled, assemble the sandwiches... Bread, eggplant, peppers, tomato slices, basil leaves (I leave them whole) & finally the splashes of extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
Close the assembled sandwich & cook it either on a panini maker OR on a grill pan with a weight on the sandwich (another pan or heavy plate) until the mozzarella is melted.