Monday, August 10, 2015

Broiled Vegetable Panini

I don't have a "sandwiches" label on purpose.  This sandwich almost made me create one.

My first eggplants were barely large enough to eat.  Only slightly larger than my hand, I figured the first one would be good for one or two sandwiches.  That is how much I got out of it in quantity, but the quality was a new discovery.  A very young eggplant, with few to no seeds, tastes different than the large ones you get in the market.  It's buttery and mild instead of tough.  I could get used to that, not having to use lots of salt and garlic to mask any squashiness.  (Believe it or not, that's the spelling auto-correct came up with.)  They also have very sharp thorns in the cap, hence the gardening gloves.  I still got stuck.

The inspiration for this sandwich came from an article in Cooking Light, but I changed it a lot to suit my tastes and what I had on hand.  I had a "garden dinner".  The eggplant was fresh, the tomatoes were recently dried, and the juice in the coconut carrot soup was from a Valencia off the tree.  I wished my spinach was still around, since I can never get through a whole pound before it starts to turn.
I'm going to scale this to a market-sized eggplant, which I believe will make four sandwiches.  Since I was only making one sandwich at the time, I did all the cooking in the toaster oven, just to see if it would work.  You can use the oven broiler or light up the grill.

8 slices ciabatta bread (or 4 rolls split)
*1 medium eggplant
olive oil
1 C oven-dried tomatoes and their oil
2 C fresh spinach leaves
4 oz goat cheese log

1.  Slice eggplant into 1/2" rounds.  Coat both sides with olive oil.  On a foil-lined pan, broil for 5-8 minutes, until lightly browned and starting to soften.  Turn and broil other side until slices are soft.

2.  While that's going on, spread one side of ciabattas with several dried tomatoes.  Go ahead and drizzle a little oil on them for added flavor.  The other side gets coated with 1 oz of chèvre crumbles.  Toast until everything is warmed and lightly browned.  This can also be done under the broiler while the eggplants are on the second side.

3.  Top warmed tomatoes with a generous handful of fresh spinach leaves.  Place eggplant slices on top of spinach.  You may have to cut them in half to make them fit, because ciabatta is a low-profile bread.  Top with cheese side of bread.  Cut in half if desired.  Serve warm with soup or salad.

Difficulty rating  π

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