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Eggplant, Kale, Tomato, & Bacon Panini

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Eggplant, kale, tomato, and bacon panini |
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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

These delicious flavors combined into a warm, grilled panini is definitely a win!
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 2 sandwiches
Author: Julie Chiou
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  • 4 slices of fresh, crusty sourdough bread
  • ½ large tomato, sliced
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 4 slices large of eggplant, sliced about 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup (57 g) of Kerrygold Killaree cheddar cheese, shredded (or any type of cheese you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoon (28 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Salt & pepper

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.


  • Preheat oven to 375 °F (191 °C). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 1/4 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.
  • Repeat for the second sandwich. Slice in half and serve warm with a side of potato chips.


Serving: 1 sandwich | Calories: 700 kcal | Carbohydrates: 47 g | Protein: 24 g | Fat: 49 g | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 5 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Sandwich
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy sandwich recipe, homemade sandwich
Recipe Rating


Wednesday 25th of September 2013

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!


Thursday 26th of September 2013

Sounds delicious!

Kristen M.

Tuesday 25th of June 2013

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!


Sunday 10th of August 2014

That is one big juicy, flavorful, and appetizing sandwich!!!!

Dave @ Fit Chef Chicago

Monday 17th of June 2013

Wow - amazing pictures! I'm drooling. Can't wait to try this one.

Nutmeg nanny

Sunday 16th of June 2013

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

claire @ the realistic nutritionist

Tuesday 11th of June 2013

holy sweet heavens