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!

Ingredients

4 slices artisan bread, such as sourdough or Italian
Olive oil
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Breaded and baked eggplant slices
Prepared marinara sauce
Fresh basil, roughly chopped

Directions

  • 01

    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.

  • 02

    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

  • these look gorgeous!

  • Kat

    I am obsessed with eggplant at the moment and these arent helping!! yummm

  • YUM. As soon as eggplants are in season, I’m going to make a big batch of eggplant parm so I can have leftovers to make these panini. Great recipe!

  • They look delicious!! I too love to find inspiration in a restaurant menu, its so much fun to take an already delicious dish and cook it at home and make it better :)

  • Mmm, I’ve been experimenting with sandwiches lately too, Annie. :-) This is really fabulous and may even convert me to eggplant!

  • mmm I’ve been waiting for these ever since you mentioned them in the eggplant parm post – they look fantastic! I totally agree that making the eggplant and sandwich in one night is a lot – love that you can get (at least) two dinners from the same method. Gorgeous photo too :)

  • The Cooking Bride

    Oh yum! I don’t like eggplant EXCEPT in eggplant Parmesan! And making a panini with it sounds even better!

  • Anu

    I spotted breaded eggplant cutlets at trader joe’s and bought a box. I’m going to try this with them as a shortcut. Thanks for the recipe.

  • I love eggplant. In the summer we grill it up and make sandwiches out of it with a garlic mayo. Yummy!

  • Yum! I haven’t made this one yet, but I love eggplant parm so I know it had to have been great.

  • Jeannette M.

    YUMMY!!!

  • This sandwich looks amazing, and I don’t even like eggplant. :)

  • I love eggplant, and this panini looks SOOOO good!

  • Excellent idea. I LOVE, love eggplant. And panini.

  • Sara

    I made a hack version because I was too lazy to make the eggplant home made. Trader Joes has eggplant parm in the freezer section. They are perfect for these panini’s and it was delish!

  • You had me at panini!

  • “The better I get at cooking, the less we eat out when we could make the same thing for less money at home.” One more bonus: it TASTES better when we cook at home, too! :) If only we could find little elves to do the dishes…

  • This looks so good! There’s a tomato and mozzarella panini at this cafe I go to often and I’ve been wanting to recreate it…I think I will try adding eggplant as well to make it “meatier”. Thanks for the idea!

  • What a nice looking panini!

  • Marksk1

    Looks good and yummy! I think I’m going to try this for sure!!!!