A great source of recipe inspiration is restaurant menus.  The better I get at cooking, the less we eat out when we could make the same thing for less money at home.  Last fall I went to a local restaurant for several work-related lunches, and after trying their eggplant parmesan panini, I could never bring myself to order anything else.  I am always a sucker for grilled sandwiches, and in fact this is the sandwich that is responsible for me liking eggplant in the first place.

To make these at home, I made my regular eggplant parmesan recipe one evening and prepared extra slices of the breaded and baked eggplant to use for the sandwiches a couple nights later.  At least for me, breading and baking the eggplant and then making it into a sandwich just seemed like too much work for one weeknight dinner but the leftover method worked just fine.  Of course you can make these in a regular skillet, but I just love the great flavor and pretty grill marks that come from my cast iron grill pan and panini press.  These were definitely a hit with our family, and Andrew ate so much that I ended up having to make extra sandwiches just so I could have dinner myself!

  • Yield 2 sandwiches


4 slices artisan bread, such as sourdough or Italian
Olive oil
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Breaded and baked eggplant slices
Prepared marinara sauce
Fresh basil, roughly chopped


  • 01

    Heat a well-oiled grill pan/panini press over medium-high heat.  Lay out bread slices on a work surface.  Brush one side of each piece of bread lightly with olive oil.  Flip over so non-0iled side is facing up.  On two of the bread slices, layer mozzarella cheese and baked eggplant slices.  Spoon a thin layer of marinara sauce over the eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with chopped basil.  Top with the remaining bread slices, so that the oiled side is facing outward.

  • 02

    Cook the sandwiches on the preheated grill pan until warmed through, so that the bread is nicely browned and cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.