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Grilled Eggplant Panini with Tomato Olive Spread

Grilled Eggplant Panini with Tomato Olive Spread

About a week ago I came across a recipe for a Grilled Eggplant Panini with Tomato Olive Spread on The Secret Ingredient.  I saved it to my favorites for when I had an eggplant. 

Today was a busy day and I had an eggplant in the fridge so I thought it would be day to try the Grilled Eggplant Panini with Tomato Olive Spread with a few adjustments. 

To start I was out of fresh tomatoes and I did not have kalamata olives.  Instead i grabbed a can of stewed tomatoes and some green olives for the paste.  Because I used the stewed tomatoes the paste was a little watery, so while I grilled the eggplants I put it in a cheese cloth, in a colander to drain some of the water.  I prepared the eggplant by brushing it with olive oil but I also grated some fresh Parmesan cheese and coated the eggplant with it.  I placed it on the grill for about 4 mins on a med-high heat.

Once the eggplant was ready I assembled my panini, but because I was going to feed this to my husband I had to add some meat.  I added some geona salami and used provolone in place of the mozzarella.  I was very pleased with the result and my husband enjoyed it too, although he would have liked some more meat. :) 

Below is the original recipe from The Secret Ingredient

Grilled Eggplant Panini with Tomato and Olive Spread
Serves 4

For Spread:
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup kalamata olives
Olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste
Add the tomatoes, basil and olives into the work bowl of a mini-food processor. Pulse to roughly chop. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse again until a chunky spread is formed. Set aside.

For the Eggplant:
1 large or 2 small eggplants, cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ rounds
(Note: by leaving the skin on the eggplant, it helps it to not fall apart on the grill)
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
Brush each side of eggplant rounds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Grill for approximately 3-5 minutes per side, until softened and grill marks appear. Set aside.
(Alternatively, you can grill these on the panini press to save a trip outdoors.)

To make the panini:
8 slices country-style bread (Italian, peasant, etc) OR 8 pieces of flat bread
8 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
Olive oil for brushing
Preheat panini press to high heat.
Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil.
Placing the oiled side down, lay one slice of bread on heated panini maker.
Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the tomato & olive spread on top of the bread.
Place one layer of grilled eggplant rounds over spread.
Place 2 slices of mozzarella cheese over eggplant layer.
Top with another slice of bread (this time, oiled side UP). Close panini maker and press until heated through (cheese should be melted), and bread is nicely grilled.
Repeat with remaining 3 sandwiches.
Cut in half and serve hot.


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