An easy mozzarella and eggplant panini gets it's extra delicious flavor from smokey cheese and sun-dried tomato spread. What a great way to eat vegetarian for dinner!
Some Italian flare for a weeknight dinner is always good. Smoked, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and a Mediterranean staple, eggplant.
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.
Is eggplant a fruit or a vegetable?
Eggplant is also called aubergine. And it is in fact a fruit! It's a species of nightshade fruit and is related to the tomato and potato! It's cooked like a vegetable though, and is really great sliced thinly and grilled, just like in these mozzarella and eggplant panini.
Feel free to swap the smoked mozzarella for regular fresh mozzarella. I know sometimes folks don't love smoked cheeses. But I wouldn't want you to miss out on this delicious sandwich! Enjoy!
Easy Eggplant and Mozzarella Panini
- 1 eggplant about 1 lb, sliced ¼-inch thick
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 loaf or 4 ciabatta rolls
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomato spread
- 4 to 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, smoked sliced
- Heat a grill pan on the stove or a grill press. Brush eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill until marked and just soft, 4 to 6 min (turning once if using a grill pan).
- Cut bread into 4 pieces; slice pieces or rolls in half lengthwise. Cover one side of each sandwich with tomato spread. Divide grilled eggplant between sandwiches, add cheese and top with other slices of bread.
- Brush sandwiches with olive oil and rill until cheese is melting and bread is just crisp, 4 to 5 min.
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Recipe by Tara Teaspoon and Vanessa Seder. Photographs by Rita Maas. Originally published LHJ Mar 2009.