Have we reached the mid-way through winter point yet? I’m ready for some different fresh flavors and tastes, maybe you are too. A perfect meatless meal, the Eggplant Panini on Sourdough with Roasted Red Pepper, Garlic & Provolone provides for a delicious sandwich.
Eggplant Panini is also a plenty hearty enough meal even in chilly temps, plus it’s easy to assemble even if you don’t have a Panini griller, simply fry the sandwich in some butter or olive oil, or even a combination of both.
Once sliced, the eggplant can be roasted at the same time as the red peppers and the garlic.
The eggplant slices will take less time to cook than the roasted red peppers which, depending on your oven, may be tender through in about fifteen minutes or a bit more. Overcooked eggplant slices resemble something like the bottom leather part of a shoe so you’ll want to avoid that. Just saying. Once the roasted peppers are somewhat blackened and blistered you simply place them right into a Ziploc, or as I use, a brown paper lunch bag which provides a steam house for the peppers making it easy, once cooled to the touch, to simply pull out the stem, slide off the skins, and remove all the inner seeds. You can gently rinse the seeds off in water too which often eases the process since those little seeds like to lodge into the tiniest crevices sometimes even appearing at the precise juncture of certainty in having dislodged every single one.
Roasted garlic. There is no mystery to roasting garlic and yet it is one of the single ingredient preparations that many folks have questioned me about over the years, sometimes with almost near fear, convinced it cannot be so simple, or perhaps just plain not quite sure how to go about it, or if it would really even work. It will. One merely needs to place a head of garlic into a little dish as above, line the bottom of the dish with some water, cover with aluminum foil and stick it on to the same baking sheet as the roasted peppers for they can roast for relatively the same amount of time.
Once you’ve prepared your roasted eggplant, red peppers, and garlic, there is however, one potential mystery flavor you might stuff into your bag of kitchen tricks, that is, quite simply, wizzing together in a food processor the red peppers with half of the roasted garlic head (not the outer peel- just to be clear,) the inside garlic meat. Voila, mystery sauce. Really, this combo could go on most any sort of sandwich, or, you could even mix it with some mayonnaise for spreading, providing yet another easy mystery flavor for adding to the repertoire, especially having that Roasted Garlic technique down.
- 1 large or 2 medium sized eggplants
- 3 red peppers
- 1 head garlic
- olive oil (amounts listed below)
- coarse kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 2 slices sourdough bread per sandwich
- 1-2 pieces basil per sandwich, optional
- 2 slices Provolone cheese each sandwich
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the eggplant, roasted red peppers, and roasted garlic as directed below. Once ingredients are finished assemble sandwiches. Place two slices eggplant onto the bottom slice of sourdough bread, top with a couple leaves of basil (optional) then 2 slices of Provolone cheese. Spread the roasted pepper and garlic mixture onto the top slice of bread and set on top of the cheese. Grill sandwich in a Pannini maker, alternatively use a fry pan weighed down with a fitted plate. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
- Slice lengthwise in even slices. Grease baking sheet with around 5 tablespoons oil, dredge eggplant on both sides, adding just a bit more oil if needed, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place into oven and cook fifteen minutes or longer until just tender through, remove from oven.
- Place red peppers onto a baking sheet, toss with a couple tablespoons oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, place into oven, roast about a half hour to forty-five minutes turning peppers halfway through, continuing to cook until peppers are blistered and softened. Remove from oven, place into a Ziploc or brown paper lunch bag, close top. When peppers are cool enough to touch, remove from bag, pull off the stem, peel off the outer skin, open the peppers one by one and remove seeds, rinse gently in cool water to dislodge any hidden seeds, dry peppers well with paper toweling.
- Place whole head of garlic into a small bowl or dish, add water to cover the bottom, secure with aluminum foil, place into oven and cook 30-45 minutes, remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to touch. Lift roasted garlic head from dish, separate the inside garlic from the outer wrapping of each clove (you can alternatively squeeze out the cooked garlic cloves.)
- Chop the prepared roasted peppers coarsely and place into a mini food processor, add in half of the roasted garlic (the other half may be added to stews, soups, mashed potatoes, or spread onto baguette slices.) Wiz ingredients until well blended, sprinkle with a pinch or two each salt and pepper.