Time to reveal the mystery ingredient:
Ta-da! It’s Eggplant! And this concoction is an eggplant parmesan panini.
I haven’t had eggplant parmesan in a very long time. Perhaps because I tried to make fried eggplant a few years back and it was awful. I blame a bad eggplant.
This beauty, on the other hand, can do no wrong. Aren’t eggplants funny? Dense and spongy, almost like a nerf ball. Cutting into them is so much fun. I digress.
Anyway, I saw this one in the grocery store and thought, what the hell, Eggplant Experimentation Round II, here we go.
Not sure what I did differently, but these fried eggplant slices were delightful.
I tried two methods:
- egg wash, italian-seasoned bread crumbs
- egg wash, flour, egg wash again, italian-seasoned bread crumbs
The second method was the clear winner. Ironically, it’s the uglier one at the bottom of the picture. See? Picture-perfect doesn’t always translate to a yummy dish.
I used store-bought bread crumbs (and the Sandra Lee in me finally comes out!). They’re seasoned, but not seasoned enough, so I added a generous sprinkling of oregano, basil, salt and pepper.069624182X
I beat up a couple of eggs and followed breading-method number two.
I heated up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on medium high. You can tell when the oil’s ready by flicking a drop of water in the oil. If it snaps, crackles and pops, it’s ready.
I fried the eggplant for about a minute or two on each side, and then transferred them to a paper towel.
Keep in mind that this is a picture of a first-breading-method slice. As I said, the egg-flour-egg-bread-crumb slices looked a little worse for wear.
Then, I went to work constructing my panini. I used an italian loaf (thanks, TJ’s), pasta sauce spread on both slices of bread (I like Newman’s Own—delicious, reasonably priced and the proceeds go to charity), and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The trick is to sandwich the eggplant between two layers of cheese, sauce and bread.
I heated up my panini pan with a little olive oil and then buttered the outside of the bread on the panini. What? Olive oil and butter go great together—just ask Giada. Besides, everything’s better with butter. You should know that by now.
I don’t have a top for the panini pan, so I improvised:
Here, once again, is the finished product.
And now, the main event. Behold the look of sheer terror on his face. Priceless.
The very tentative first bite.
Hey, wait a minute … I think I like this …
I LIKE EGGPLANT!!!
Please excuse the blurry photo. He was shaking with delight. (OK, it’s actually just the slow shutter speed).
Told you so.