Here, eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella meet in a panino, or Italian sandwich. After another brief trip to the grill to crisp the bread and melt the mozzarella, the hot panini are ready to slice and savor.
Click here to see A Vegetarian Grilling Menu.
For the pesto:
- 1 ½ cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted*
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or pecorino cheese, or a mix
- Kosher or sea salt
For the eggplant:
- 2 small eggplants, about ½ pound each
- Kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 pieces thick focaccia, halved horizontally, or 8 pieces thin focaccia, each roughly 3-by-6 inches or equivalent
- 8-12 thin tomato slices
- 6 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
For the pesto:
To make the pesto, put the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. With the motor running, add the olive oil gradually through the feed tube, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Purée until the pesto is almost, but not completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Season to taste with salt.
For the eggplant:
Slice off the eggplants’ green cap, then cut each eggplant lengthwise into slices 3⁄16 of an inch thick. Discard the first and last slices, which are mostly skin. Sprinkle the remaining slices generously on both sides with salt. Place them on a rack and let stand for 30 minutes. Moisture will bead on the surface.
Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium (375 degrees). Pat the eggplant slices dry with paper towels, then brush on both sides with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the slices directly over the coals or gas flame and cook, turning once, until just tender, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the grill.
Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on 1 side of each focaccia piece — on the cut side if you have halved the focaccia, or on the bottom side if you have not. Layer the grilled eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly, on 4 of the pesto-topped slices. Top the eggplant with the tomato slices, then with mozzarella, dividing them both evenly. Place another piece of focaccia, pesto side down, on the sandwich.
Brush the sandwiches with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides. Place the sandwiches directly over the coals or gas flame and cook, turning once, until they are hot throughout, the focaccia is nicely toasted, and the mozzarella is molten, about 3 minutes per side, depending on the heat of the fire. Cut in half and serve immediately.
Easy Mozzarella and Eggplant Panini
Eggplant and mozzarella go together so well. I decided to use a grill press for these sandwiches, so my eggplant isn't getting the smokiness it would if I cooked it on an outdoor grill or really charred the skin, like I do for baba ganoush (a smokey eggplant dip). For that depth of flavor I used smoked mozzarella. It's still got that fresh, soft taste like other fresh mozzarellas but with a unique smokey balance.
I use a panini press, or grill press to make these right on the countertop. It's my favorite way to make grilled, toasty sandwiches. Plus I can grill my eggplant on it before making the sandwich. Two for one!
Using a smoked cheese gives this Mozzarella And Eggplant Panini a fantastic flavor. What a great vegetarian dinner!
I love this press, and there are other great ones out there. The thing is, you don't actually need one! You can sauté the eggplant right in a skillet on the stove, or broil it in the oven, and then use tools in your kitchen to make your own panini press! Check out the method here:
I'm a sucker for good sandwich spreads, so I knew I wanted something more than just a drizzle of vinegar for the compliment. Sun-dried tomatoes were just the thing. And I love that you can buy sun-dried tomato spread already prepared.
If you want, you can make your own like my friend over at A Farm Girl Dabbles. Or use some of my sun-dried tomato pesto if you've got it on hand. It's simply a great way to bring acidic, tomatoey flavor to this mozzarella and eggplant panini.
This recipe is a good starting point, I wouldn't follow it word for word. I didn't use eggplant or peppers, just zucchini and a tomato. I didn't grill the tomato though. I also substituted the balsamic vinaigrette for the vinegar, added more flavor to the veggies. I thought it was pretty good.
This is ok. But I could wing something tastier without a simple recipe like this one.
This recipe needs work - I found the EVOO + Balsamic vinegar mix didn't give the veggies enough flavor. I used EVOO, salt/pepper and rosemary which was far more tasteful! Also added sun-dried tomato pesto on the bread.
Eh. Meh. Could have used more spices and "jazzing up", which you can certainly do, but shouldn't the recipe stand on it's own? Healthy yes, but no culinary revelation or taste revolution.
I would say that this recipe is good, not great. I was kinda blah to be honest. It's really healthy which is nice and makes a good lunch to take to work but really nothing to rave about.
Really tasty and filling. Added portebellas and sun dried tomatoes. Wrapped up and kept great for lunch the next day.
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Eggplant and Mozzarella Panini recipe - How to make Eggplant and Mozzarella Panini
Preparation Time: 10 mins    Cooking Time: 25 mins    Total Time: 35 mins     4 Makes 4 paninis
Show me for paninis
- Heat 2 tsp of olive oil on a non-stick tava (griddle), place the brinjal slices on it and cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes using the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil till it turns light brown in colour from both the sides.
- Cool slightly and cut them into halves using a sharp knife. Keep aside.
- Slit a hot dog roll horizontally using a sharp knife and apply 1 tsp of butter on each bread halve.
- Put 4 brinjal halves on the lower halve, sprinkle 1/8 tsp of sea salt and ¼ tsp of chilli flakes and evenly over it.
- Finally put 1 tbsp of cheese evenly over it.
- Close the bread roll and brush ½ tsp of butter on top of the bread and grill in a greased pre-heated sandwich griller for 5 minutes or till they turn crispy and brown from both the sides.
- Repeat steps 3 to 5 to make 3 more paninis.
- Cut each panini diagonally into 2 equal pieces.
- Serve immediately.
Garlic Herb Aioli
+3 tbsp of light olive oil
+1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
+1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
+ juice of 1 small lemon about 2 tbsp
Directions: In an immersion blender safe jar, add in 2 small garlic cloves chopped, mayo, olive oil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper & lemon juice. Immersion blend until fully incorporated & creamy smooth. About 30 seconds. Continue going up & down, to insure the garlic is blended together well. Then refrigerate until ready to use!
Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Panini
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- 1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 8 slices (1/4 inch each)
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 8 slices (1/4 inch each)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
- 8 slices ciabatta
- 1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella
- 8 large fresh basil leaves
Whisk vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray place vegetables in 1 layer on sheet. Brush both sides of eggplant and zucchini with vinegar mixture. Spray all vegetables with cooking spray and place under broiler, 7 to 8 minutes, turning once and coating with cooking spray. Lightly brush 4 bottom slices of ciabatta with remaining vinegar mixture pile veggies, cheese and basil on each of the slices. Close sandwiches spray both sides with cooking spray. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat add sandwiches. Place a second skillet on top of sandwiches and press down. Cook 4 minutes, flipping once. Serve.
THE SKINNY: 258 calories per serving, 8.7 g fat (3.2 g saturated), 36.2 g carbs, 4.7 g fiber, 10.4 g protein
- 1 baby eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 loaf flat bread, sliced horizontally and cut into 4 equal pieces
- ½ (12 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced
- 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup roasted garlic hummus
Season eggplant slices with salt and pepper let stand for 2 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat saute 1/2 of the eggplant until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining olive oil and eggplant.
Preheat a panini press according to manufacturer's instructions.
Layer eggplant, roasted red pepper, and mozzarella cheese, respectively, onto the bottom piece of each flat bread. Spread 1 tablespoon hummus on the inside of each top piece of flat bread and place over the mozzarella layer, creating a panini.
Grill each panini on the preheated panini press until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 7 minutes.
How to grill an eggplant
This simple recipe relies on the flavor of the vegetable itself. The marinade - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic - merely highlights its wonderful flavor. The detailed instructions for making this recipe are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your first step is slicing the eggplant into rounds. Try to keep them about the same thickness.
2. Brush the slices with a tasty mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices.
3. Grill the slices until tender, about 5 minutes per side.
After you brush the eggplant slices with the marinade, you will have leftover marinade. Keep it, and brush it on the cooked slices.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 loaf crusty bread (10 ounces), such as ciabatta, sliced in half lengthwise
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 medium eggplant (8 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 14 fresh basil leaves
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. In a small bowl, combine garlic with 1 tablespoon oil season with salt and pepper. Brush garlic oil on cut sides of bread and grill until lightly toasted on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes. Top bottom half with cheese.
Brush eggplant with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender and lightly charred, 12 to 15 minutes, flipping once. Layer eggplant on cheese. Brush tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping once. Layer tomatoes on eggplant, top with basil, and sandwich with top half of bread. Cut crosswise into 4 pieces and serve.
1. Make a Garlic Paste
This is also a technique I use in making garlic bread, and sometimes salad dressing. Raw garlic is acrid, and crunchy when you bite down on it, right? Can even be a bit unpleasant, if the bits are too big. To avoid that, you simply make a garlic paste.
First, you mince the garlic finely. Once you&rsquore there, sprinkle some kosher or coarse grained sea salt over the garlic, and mince some more. The salt crystals will further serve to break down the cell walls of the garlic, and you&rsquoll notice your minced garlic is looking juicier. The salt also will draw out the liquid.
Then using the side of your knife&rsquos blade, squish down and smear your pile of salted minced garlic, and then scrape it all back into a pile again, and mince some more. Once you&rsquove done this several times, your garlic should resemble more of a paste. It&rsquos now ready to be added to the mayo, and it&rsquos pretty close to an aioli. So if you like the sound of the word, aioli, go ahead and call it an aioli. Because it&rsquos fancy. Or call it what it really is, a garlic mayonnaise.
2. Roast your own red peppers.
People buy already roasted red peppers in a jar, and you can do that, but why would you want to, when it&rsquos summertime, peppers are plentiful, you&rsquore already firing up the grill anyway, and this is fun to do besides? (Jarred red peppers taste mundane and kind of slimy in comparison to those you prepare yourself, anyway.)
Here&rsquos how you do it on a grill.
Brush your red peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Take them out to the grill and char those suckers till they scream. Seriously: you want them black on the outside.
Here&rsquos how to do it in your oven.
Alternatively, in wintertime, when you&rsquore NOT firing up the grill, you can put them on a cookie sheet, and place them 6&Prime away from the broiler heating element. Heat them till the skins are charred black, and blistered.
Heck, you can even do this over the stove top&rsquos flame if you have a gas cooktop. But that get&rsquos a little trickier, and I&rsquove actually never done that. Just seen it done on TV.
Once They&rsquore Charred:
Bring the red peppers inside and stick them in a bowl and cover the bowl quickly with plastic wrap. What you are doing now is allowing them to steam themselves. As they do, the charred black skin will loosen. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
Come back, remove the plastic wrap, and carefully peel or scrape the skin away. Cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and stem. And then cut each half into four slices. Voilà! You now know how to roast your own red peppers. (Or yellow peppers. Or orange peppers.) And they are ready to put on your sandwich.
Why Ciabatta for the Bread of this Grilled Eggplant Sandwich?
Ciabatta is a flat, crusty Italian bread. The texture is chewy, with a lot of holes. It is the PERFECT bread for this sandwich. And you&rsquore going to cut the entire long loaf in half, lengthwise, to grill it. And then place all the ingredients on that entire half and THEN put the top back on and only THEN cut the individual sandwiches, after all the grilling is done. So you really don&rsquot want a tall bread. Long and flat is the way to go. If what you have is a taller bread, I guess you could slice it and make this sandwich in individual servings and grill them inside, as a panini. But my assumption here is that you are firing up the grill. Therefore, just grill the entire loaf, and buy a flattish loaf of bread. OK?