Whenever time is running out for me to come up with complicated meal ideas, the alternative is simple: panino it is! This should come as no surprise to those of you who have been following my blog for awhile now. Especially these past few months, with very little time to “spare” in the kitchen and with lots of things to do inside and outside our home, panini have ruled over our menu, and for good reasons: they are quick, easy to make, and very versatile indeed.
My husband and I are big fans of eggplant. However, so far my use of it has been limited to eggplant salad, eggplant parmigiana and stuffed eggplant. I came up with this idea of a panino because I was simply looking for another way to incorporate this rather unassuming veggie into my cooking. It was a “happy accident,” and pairing eggplant with goat cheese made up for a balanced and earthly panino, with an unadulterated mix of flavors which stays true to its component parts. In coming up with this panino idea I was also inspired by our oregano bush, which is 3 years old and is going stronger than ever. 🙂
I was very happy with how the panino turned out. Next time I make it though, to achieve a greater depth of flavor, I will add the oregano to the grill pan with the vegetable oil – not sprinkle it on the eggplant after the cooking was finished.
1 medium size eggplant
2 slices wholemeal bread
1/4lb goat cheese
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp dry oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the eggplant and cut it into rounds about 1/2in thick. Liberally sprinkle salt on top of the rounds and let them “rest” for about half an hour. During this time, you will see the eggplant start to “sweat,” which is nothing to be worried about – on the contrary: it means the salt is “working its magic” to eliminate the bitterness from the eggplant.
After half an hour, carefully pat dry the eggplant to get rid of the bitter water-like particles. Sprinkle pepper on top of the rounds and place them on a preheated and pre-oiled grill pan. Grill the eggplant under a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft and golden-brown, turning the slices over half way through the process. When done, take the slices out of the pan and put them on a plate. Sprinkle oregano on top.
The preparation of the panino itself couldn’t be simpler: Put a few slices of eggplant on the slice of bread which will make up the bottom of the panino. Place the goat cheese on top of the eggplant. Finish off with another layer of eggplant and with the other slice of bread. Put the panino on the preheated grill to cook for about 30 seconds or until the bread is golden-brown and there are nice grill marks all over it.
This is how the process looks like:
Cut the panino in half and serve it with extra goat cheese on the side and chopped fresh dill sprinkled on top.
The combination between the delicate goat cheese, the earthly eggplant and the aromatic oregano makes this panino a Mediterranean-inspired fast food feast, which my family thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely make this again in the future – and, as usual, I will let you know if I make any changes/additions to the recipe 🙂