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Eggplant, Kale, Tomato, & Bacon Panini

Eggplant, kale, tomato, and bacon panini | www.tablefortwoblog.comEggplant, kale, tomato, and bacon panini | www.tablefortwoblog.comEggplant, kale, tomato, and bacon panini | www.tablefortwoblog.com

When I was young, I was really into paninis, and clearly, I still am. I really can’t put my finger on as to why I liked them so much but I always had my mom grill my sandwiches so they would be all flat with grill marks and melty cheese on the inside. Not quite sure the fascination with that, but I swear it made the sandwich taste 10 times better and I was more apt to eating the entire thing that just a plain, cold, regular sandwich. I would always beg to go to Panera (when it was the cool thing to do back then) so I could get a panini. I know, I was such a strange child.

You must agree with me when I say that I’m 100% convinced that calories don’t count on the weekends. Aren’t I somewhat right?

For the past few weekends, I have been eating like a monster. I indulge myself in any and everything on the weekends but during the week, I’m very careful about what I eat. I think I like to think that if I eat well during the week, then erasing all that good eating on the weekends will balance it all out and I won’t gain any weight. It’s wishful thinking but as long as I can put off exercising as much as I can, it works for me ;)

I’m also 100% convinced that no one knows how to say my new last name. Which kind of sucks because I dealt with that my whole life and was excited to have a new last name but now it’s all just whatever. It really does bug me though when people call me Julia or Judy or July. Julia – I get the similarities there but Judy or July really irk me. Maybe it’s because my childhood pediatrician still insists that my name is Judy or the fact that every time I receive a Christmas gift from one of my parents’ friends, it’s always written as “July” and not “Julie.” I can only laugh about it now though since it’s been so many years that this has happened.

Anyway, here’s a recipe for my undying love for paninis. A hot, pressed, & grilled sandwich always wins in my book.

Eggplant, Kale, Tomato, & Bacon Panini
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Entree, Sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients:
  • 4 slices of fresh, crusty sourdough bread
  • ½ large tomato, sliced
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 4 large slices of eggplant, sliced about ⅛” thick
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup of Kerrygold Killaree cheddar cheese, shredded (or any type of cheese you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set an ovenproof wire baking rack on top of the foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Arrange bacon on prepared rack, leaving plenty of space between slices. Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes, until bacon is browned and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting them into sections to fit on the slices of bread.
  2. In the meantime, take your slices of eggplant and you can either grill them on the grill or cook them using a grill pan (I used this Le Creuset one on my stove). If using a grill pan, heat grill pan on medium high heat and add 1-2 tbsp. olive oil to the pan and cook the both sides of the eggplant until soft and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside. In the same grill pan, sauté the kale with a bit of salt and pepper. Don’t cook them until they’re really wilted, you only need to cook them about a minute total. You just want a nice gentle sear on them from the grill pan and some parts of the kale will be crunchy, but mostly tender.
  3. Once the bacon has finished cooking, you can start to assemble the panini. On one slice of bread, butter one side of it (the side that it’ll be facing down on the grill pan) then place ¼ cup of cheese on top then layer with the bacon, tomato slices, eggplant, and kale. Place the other half of the sandwich bread on top and butter the top of it. Then gently place onto the same grill pan, butter side down. Using a heavy bottomed pan, place that on top of the sandwich so you’re gently flattening it (yes, that pan will get oily because it’ll be touching a buttered side). You’ll want to cook both sides on medium heat in the grill pan for about 5 minutes each, or until nice grill marks appear and the bread is golden brown. You can also achieve this on a panini press.
  4. Repeat for the second sandwich. Slice in half and serve warm with a side of potato chips.

 

47 COMMENTS

  1. 06/10/2013 at 6:08 am

    Lunch, anyone?! My goodness.

  2. 06/10/2013 at 6:57 am

    Totally with you on the panini-love. This sounds like such a great sandwich.

  3. 06/10/2013 at 8:10 am

    Sounds like such a great sandwich! I am with you, I love grill marks and melty cheese!

  4. 06/10/2013 at 8:18 am

    This is pretty much exactly what my mouth is screaming for at the moment!! :)

  5. 06/10/2013 at 8:22 am

    I would chose a panini sandwich over a regular one any day. It must be because they are fancier or something.

  6. 06/10/2013 at 8:25 am

    This is a sandwich masterpiece! :) Looks delicious, Julie!

  7. 06/10/2013 at 8:41 am

    I feel your pain, no one can ever pronounce my last name now! And I used to have a really simple one before getting married so it’s weird to have people struggle now. This panini is awesome, love the combo of flavors! I wish I could reach through my screen and grab a bite :)

  8. 06/10/2013 at 9:39 am

    First of all – beautiful stacking. I’ll take mine with extra bacon please ;) I seriously need a panini press. Maybe Santa will bring one this year ha. And seriously… Judy?! I’m totally calling you that from now on.

  9. 06/10/2013 at 9:57 am

    Oh my goodness, this panini looks out of this world! Gorgeous stacking photo with the melted cheese – makes me want to grab a bite of this from the screen. Yum!

  10. 06/10/2013 at 10:06 am

    I’m right there with ya on paninis. I swear grilling them makes them a million times better. I even do it with a regular PB&J and it’s fantastic. I can also relate to the name thing. I get “Lee” all the time instead of Leah. Drives. Me. Nuts.

  11. 06/10/2013 at 10:48 am

    I wish calories didn’t count on the weekend. I’d probably be two pant sizes smaller by this point. These paninis look delicious. I will have to give the combo a try.
    -Kristin

  12. 06/10/2013 at 10:52 am

    Crazy great!! Shared everywhere…….

  13. 06/10/2013 at 11:01 am

    Ohhhh, I’m dying over this gorgeous sandwich. Lunch please….

  14. 06/10/2013 at 11:01 am

    Gorgeous photo and delish panini! I love the combo! And yes..calories never count on weekends, duh! :)

  15. 06/10/2013 at 11:03 am

    Calories totally don’t count on the weekend! Everyone knows this. ;)

    Also, these photos are fabulous — you are so stinkin’ talented, lady!

  16. 06/10/2013 at 11:19 am

    Great pictures! These sandwiches look mouth-watering, Julie (I got it right, didn’t I?) ; ) And I am in absolute agreement that weekend calories are totally different from weekdays. It all balances out!

  17. 06/10/2013 at 11:21 am

    I love paninis too, especially the grill marks!

  18. Candice
    06/10/2013 at 11:25 am

    This panini looks delicious and I’m not even a fan of eggplant. Love the grill marks on the panini!

  19. 06/10/2013 at 11:34 am

    My maiden name is ridiculously hard to say- no one could ever get it right. When I got married I was never so happy for the easiest last name ever. Also- these sandwiches? Love that you used eggplant and kale.

  20. I want a tower just like this one.

  21. 06/10/2013 at 12:04 pm

    Holy sandwich! These look soooo good. Love the piled-high stack photos!!

  22. 06/10/2013 at 12:35 pm

    holy moly I need this in my life :)

  23. 06/10/2013 at 12:37 pm

    This is insane! Love the look of all those vegetables, Julie. Pinned!

  24. 06/10/2013 at 12:38 pm

    Now this is a sandwich! So pretty Julie!!!

  25. 06/10/2013 at 12:43 pm

    Now that is a sandwich!! I am all about grilled and toasty instead of just plain!

  26. 06/10/2013 at 12:47 pm

    I have been craving a good sandwich and last night in a late cab ride home my husband said to me “we should have sandwiches soon”. Then you posted this… and I need some new kale recipes. Perfect – thanks!

  27. 06/10/2013 at 12:56 pm

    These photos! YUM. I want to dive in.

  28. Sel
    06/10/2013 at 1:35 pm

    This type of sandi is delicious….when i do my eggpplant,
    i soak in salt water to remove all the gooey stuff, then
    dip in flour, egg, and finally panko. Fry in olive oil,til
    crunchy on both sides. Yes, i know it is the long way around,
    but,you will love the crunch in the sandi. lots of tomatoes, and lettuce, and if needed, parmesan cheese. By the way, love it
    on rosemary infused bread.

  29. 06/10/2013 at 1:50 pm

    You are SO right that calories don’t count on the weekend. :) These look awesome!!

  30. 06/10/2013 at 2:52 pm

    Holy gorgeousness! How soon can you come here to make this for me?? ;)

  31. 06/10/2013 at 4:39 pm

    OMG – this looks and sounds killer!!!

  32. 06/10/2013 at 5:06 pm

    the panini and those grill mark makes sandwiches 10000 times better :) this looks fantasticcc

  33. 06/10/2013 at 5:34 pm

    I need to lie down.

  34. nessa
    06/10/2013 at 5:42 pm

    This i s insane !

  35. 06/10/2013 at 9:49 pm

    Julie, EVERY sandwich is better when transformed on the panini press. One of my go-to single lady meals (and OK, even now that I AM married I still make it): grilled PB&J or PB&Banana. I kid you not, something magical happens on the panini press! I’m all about being a good girl during the week, then blowing my calories on the weekend. This veggie sandwich looks to-die-for. Thanks for sharing!
    PS. July??? Really? Come on folks. I’d be annoyed too!

  36. 06/10/2013 at 10:57 pm

    I do love me a hearty panini! looks great!

  37. 06/11/2013 at 1:52 am

    I get you as I get Jerry all the time instead of Gerry :(or Gerry with a hard “G” Awesome sammie btw!!

  38. 06/11/2013 at 6:54 am

    yum! I love this flavor combo, Julie. I too have been obsessed with panini’s at a young age–my mom bought me a very generic panini maker when I was a kid just so I could make them whenever I wanted!

    btw… July? really are people stupid? lol…

  39. 06/11/2013 at 8:43 am

    Look at that sandwich stack! I need this in my mouth right now!

  40. 06/11/2013 at 11:40 am

    looks really yummy. Love your photos

  41. 06/11/2013 at 1:25 pm

    holy sweet heavens

  42. 06/16/2013 at 12:52 pm

    Oh my, this is one beautiful sandwich! It contains everything that I love :)

  43. 06/17/2013 at 10:38 pm

    Wow – amazing pictures! I’m drooling. Can’t wait to try this one.

  44. 06/25/2013 at 2:18 pm

    This is quite a panini. YUM!

    Ugh, the name thing really gets on my nerves. Ppl are ALWAYS calling me Kristine, Christina, Kirsten, Christian, the list goes on an on. Don’t even get me started on Kris!

  45. Marigold13
    09/25/2013 at 7:12 pm

    I made this tonight and everyone loved it! I omitted the bacon to make it vegetarian friendly. Since I omitted the bacon, I thought that provolone cheese would work better than cheddar. I also added just a tad bit of mayo on the bread and added a few spices to the eggplant. Even my nine-year-old little food critic loved this one. I served it with potato salad and sweet tea. YUM!

    • 09/26/2013 at 9:24 am

      Sounds delicious!

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