I had eggplant growing up, and didn’t love it. My dad who didn’t like most vegetables, had special favorites like eggplant. Eggplant parmesan was one of his favorite things to prepare, but I didn’t love it. I was a kid though – and what did I know? As an adult, I know that your tastes can change and you should retry things – and I also know I shouldn’t waste all of those eggplants that come in our market bag every week recently (I did give one away to my daughter though).
Eggplants are so lovely to look at, deep purple – or striped, light purple, white, green or yellow. The dark purple are what people expect but it isn’t a rule as I told my daughter – there is no eggplant must be dark purple rule. The one I had was purple and white stripes, medium and round and very pretty. I skinned it, but I felt bad because it was such a lovely looking squash.
First I thought of Eggplant lasagna, then Italian bread with Eggplant Parmesan inside. However, when I asked my husband to bring home Italian bread/French bread from the store, he came home with sliced Italian bread, bagels and frozen garlic bread because the store he went to didn’t have it. So instead we have Eggplant Panini’s and let me tell you – they were delicious and much better than I imagined.
I used a spreadable sheepsmilk cheese, that I coarsely chopped basil into. I also simmered basil and garlic in oil before frying the eggplant to infuse the eggplant and I cooked the panini in the garlic and basil infused oil. Then we had a spicy marinara as a dipping sauce for the sandwich. I loved the little kick that it gave each bite. My son and my husband gobbled it up quickly. I will definitely make this again.
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Basil
- 1 large garlic clove (or two smaller)
- 1 small onion
- 1 green pepper
- Sheepsmilk soft cheese (or other soft cheese like chevre)
- Italian Bread
- Peel eggplant and slice lengthwise thinly.
- Peel and smash garlic.
- Core and slice green pepper.
- Heat oil in a non stick pan over low heat.
- When oil is warm add garlic and basil - the heat should be low, so the garlic and basil infuse the oil rather than burn.
- Raise the temperature and when it is simmering add the onions and peppers and a couple at a time, add the eggplant.
- Brown each side of the eggplant, then drain on paper towel.
- When all of the eggplant is cooked, finish sauteeing the peppers and onions, remove from the oil and drain.
- Chop Basil and mix with the soft cheese.
- Smear six slices of bread with the herb cheese mixture.
- Layer the eggplant, the onions, and pepper on one slice of bread and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
- Place the other slice of bread with herb cheese on top.
- Place back in the nonstick pan and brown on each side.
- Do this for each of the other two sandwiches.
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