Tag Archives: eggplant

Eggplant Panini with summer tomato and herb dipping sauce…a little late

This recipe is awfully late, but a few things have delayed blogging these days. But alas, I am sitting here reflecting on our summer garden, which may have been small, but she was mighty…well at least in the eggplant department. Also, not in the true sense of productivity, but rather, we felt passionately productive when we could harvest any bounty from our 4×4 urban, shady plot…for which I am grateful.  We plucked a red strawberry here and there, some jalapenos, and plenty of summer herbs.  Things just seem to taste different when you grow them yourself, and I seem to handle them with much more care in the kitchen.  I let our Japanese eggplants sit on the vine, went and visited them just about every day, and all the while thought about how I could best prepare those beautiful fruit.  I needed them to be the stars. I had a flash feeling of myself embodying one of those horrible beauty pageant stage mothers, trying to best display her eggplant babies for their big show.  Not quite, but you know what I mean.  So, I came up with this beautiful eggplant Parmesan panini with a summer tomato and herb dip.  This dish just screamed summer, and my oh my was that eggplant tender. She also won in the beauty category as well. 

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Eggplant Panini with summer tomato and herb dipping sauce…

sandwich:

sliced cracked wheat bread

garlic

olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced

organic breadcrumbs (Trader Joe’s has a nice consistency) or make your own

ground parmesan cheese

fresh mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper

1 tbs ground flaxseed and ¼ cup water (substitute for egg)

Combine ground flax seed and water, stir and let sit. 

Combine organic breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and spread on a plate. 

Then in a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Begin dipping eggplant slices into water/flaxseed mixture, then into breadcrumb mixture, and then into frying pan.  Cook until crispy and then flip and repeat. 

Lightly toast slices of bread in a panini press (or in a pan with a heatproof, weighted, pan on top to flatten the bread). Rub a garlic clove onto the bread, giving it a bit of flavor.  Then assemble bread, eggplant, cheese, and some fresh herbs.  Place back into the panini press until bread is crispy and cheese is melted. 

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tomato sauce:

tomatoes

fresh parsley

fresh basil

salt and pepper

If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden, slice in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Oven roast until just wilted and most of their water has been evaporated.  Then in a food processor puree, add salt, pepper, and herbs.  Blend until smooth in consistency. 

If you do not have garden tomatoes you can use a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes.

 


Serve along side sandwich for dipping. 

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


ratatouille panini with cilantro pesto…

No dish is more fitting for summer ingredients than a ratatouille.  Sweet summer tomatoes, red peppers, zucchinis, and eggplant all layered together.  At this point in the summer they are all pretty much lined up for you at the farmer’s market.  At first this dish looks rather labor intensive, however it was accomplished over a course of a couple of days.  I would highly recommend making the cilantro pesto a couple days prior to the paninis. One: it develops more flavor over time, and two: you can use it in just about anything: pizza, pasta, sandwiches, mixed vegetables, soups, bruschetta…the list is endless.

cilantro pesto…

1 bunch cilantro

1 ½ cups walnuts, toasted and chopped

1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil (1-1 ½ cups)

salt and pepper to taste

(sometimes I add a little lemon juice or zest depending on what I have in mind for the making…)

Rinse and trim cilantro.  Add cilantro, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic into a blender.  Add about ½ cup olive oil and begin to blend.  Keep adding olive oil, in a thin stream while blending, until mixture begins to spin freely.  You may need to stop and stir a couple of times.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Although ratatouille is a perfected and classic french dish,  I generally need a little more texture than what casseroles have to offer. However, I just love the flavor profile of a ratatouille and its nod to summer. I started off with a Julia Child classic preparation and then jumped ship completely. I used cilantro pesto in place of basil, and threw everything on some delicious, crusty, francese rolls.

ratatouille panini…

(makes about 2-3 sandwiches)

1 small eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise

1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise

½ red pepper, sliced lengthwise into strips

½ basket grape tomatoes, cut in half, or whatever tomatoes your market has that looks delicious

¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 small cloves garlic, minced

olive oil

kosher salt

herbes de Provence

mayonnaise

cilantro pesto

Parmesan cheesse, shredded

Mix slices of both zucchini and eggplant with about 1 tsp of kosher salt and let stand in a bowl for approximately 30 minutes.  This will draw out the excess water, and leave all the flavor. Remove from the bowl, and then pat dry with a clean cloth.  Heat frying pan to medium high heat, add about ½ tbs olive oil.  Fry all slices of eggplant and zucchini in a single layer until golden brown and a little crispy, flipping as necessary and remove from pan.  Add a little more olive oil to the pan, and then add peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic.  Lightly salt and season gently with herbes de Provence.  Cook until heated thoroughly, but peppers still remain a little crunchy.


Preheat panini iron or a pan, and prepare a weight to press the sandwich.  Cut rolls in half lengthwise and lightly toast. Mix together 2 parts mayonnaise and 1 part cilantro pesto.  Spread mixture on both halves of toasted bread.  Layer eggplant and zucchini and then top with pepper, tomato, and onion mixture.  Top with shredded Parmesan cheese and then last piece of bread.  Place whole sandwich in the panini iron, cook until bread is crispy and cheese is melted.  Serve hot.

Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!