House-Grilled Eggplant Panini with Cheese and Tomatoes
By Lortta Kelly, "My favorite, I use it on italian toast. top with melted cheese, or I use it in my pasta with grated cheese. I could not ask for a better produ
If you are looking for a quick and delicious, gourmet-style appetizer that will impress your friends and family, here it is. I've always enjoyed cooking thinly-sliced eggplant in a frying pan, scattered with fresh parmesan cheese, and ripe diced tomatoes. One day I decided to change it up a bit, and this is what I came up with. I call it the House Grilled Eggplant Panini - so yummy and it looks really fancy!
The most important part of this delicious recipe is the eggplant. Because eggplants come in all sizes, you can have fun with the look of your paninis. I haven't made these with baby eggplants, but I bet they would be incredibly good too. In this recipe, I am using a medium-sized eggplant. The eggplant needs to be sliced 1/4 inch thick, and it needs to be charred slightly or grilled. A house grill pan will work well for this task. The cheese can be varied, depending on your preferences - I've used provolone, farmer's cheese, and mozzarella. Fresh herbs top it off nicely - basil, oregano, or parsley.
- 1 medium-sized eggplant, sliced in round 1/4 inch pieces, leaave skin on
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 4 ounces freshly shredded parmesan cheese, this can be bought pre-shredded, but fresh is essential
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half length-wise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large tomato, thinly-sliced
- 4 ounces provolone, mozzarella, or farmers cheese, thin, round slices (can be pre-sliced at local deli)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, oregano, or parsley, chopped
Pictures by Author
- First, prepare the eggplant by washing it off and drying it. Trim the top and bottom off and discard. Now begin slicing into 1/4 inch slices. You will need 4 slices per person, so you should end up with at least 16 slices.
- Next, heat your grill pan on medium-high heat. Pour the 1/4 cup olive oil in pan and coat the bottom evenly with oil. Cut the garlic clove in half length-wise, and place cut sides down in the pan. Once the oil is hot, rub the garlic along the bottom of the pan, then remove. This gives the oil a wonderful garlic flavor.
- Place eggplant in pan. After about 5 minutes, press on eggplant with a fork, releasing the juices. Allow to cook for 5 more minutes. Now flip the eggplant, and repeat.
- While the eggplant is sizzling, slice the medium-sized tomato and mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices, dice the basil and roma tomato, and set aside.
- Layer every other slice of eggplant with sliced mozzarella, sliced tomato, basil, and one more slice of mozarella. Place another eggplant slice on top. Cover with lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes. This will give the mozerrella time to melt.
- Place 2 eggplant paninis on each plate for appetizers. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shredded parmesan and diced tomatoes.
- If serving as a meal, place 4 eggplant paninis on each plate.
Appetizer Portions (double for meal portions)
|Serving size: 2 sandwiches|
|Calories from Fat||252|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 28 g||43%|
|Saturated fat 10 g||50%|
|Carbohydrates 11 g||4%|
|Sugar 4 g|
|Fiber 5 g||20%|
|Protein 18 g||36%|
|Cholesterol 47 mg||16%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
The Health Benefits of Eggplant
Eggplant is actually very good for you and has many health benefits. According to Medical News Today, eggplant has the following health benefits:
- Eggplants contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and phytonutrients which support heart health.
- "Polyphenols in eggplant have been found to exhibit anti-cancer effects. Anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They protect body cells from damage caused by free radicals and in turn prevent tumor growth and invasion and spread of cancer cells. They also stimulate detoxifying enzymes within cells and promote cancer cell death.."
- Nasunin, an anthocyanin is found inside the eggplant skin. It is a "powerful antioxidant that protects the lipids comprising cell membranes in brain cells from free radical damage. It has also been proven to help facilitate the transport of nutrients into the cell and wastes out.."
- "Research has also shown that anthocyanins inhibit neuroinflammation and facilitate blood flow to the brain. This helps prevent age-related mental disorders and also improves memory."
- "Eggplant skin is full of fiber, potassium and magnesium and antioxidants. In fact, its phenolic content makes it such a potent free radical scavenger that the eggplant is ranked among the top 10 vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity."
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