Eggplant, Kale, Tomato, & Bacon Panini

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

    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!
    Prep Time: 30 mins
    Cook Time: 20 mins
    Total Time: 50 mins
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 2
    Calories: 700kcal
    Author: Julie Chiou
    5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify MealtimeSign up here for all the secrets!


    • 4 slices of fresh crusty sourdough bread
    • 1/2 large tomato, sliced
    • 6 slices of bacon
    • 2 handfuls of kale
    • 4 slices large of eggplant, sliced about 1/8-inch thick
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 cup of Kerrygold Killaree cheddar cheese, shredded (or any type of cheese you prefer)
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
    • Salt & pepper


    • 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.
    • 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.


    Nutrition Facts
    Eggplant, Kale, Tomato, & Bacon Panini
    Amount Per Serving (1 sandwich)
    Calories 700 Calories from Fat 441
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 49g75%
    Carbohydrates 47g16%
    Fiber 4g16%
    Sugar 5g6%
    Protein 24g48%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    *Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. 


    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
    Meet The Author: Julie Chiou
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    Recipe Rating


  • Jamie @lifelovelemons says:

    Lunch, anyone?! My goodness.

  • Kathryn says:

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

  • Tieghan says:

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

  • Clarise says:

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

  • Meagan @ A Zesty Bite says:

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

  • Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective says:

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

  • Tracey says:

    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 :)

  • Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    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.

  • Kelly @ Life made Sweeter says:

    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!

  • Leah | So, How's It Taste? says:

    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.

  • Kristin says:

    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.

  • marla says:

    Crazy great!! Shared everywhere…….

  • Heather Christo says:

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

  • Samantha @FerraroKitchen says:

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

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough says:

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

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

  • Monica says:

    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!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) says:

    I love paninis too, especially the grill marks!

  • Candice says:

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

  • Carlene: Healthfully Ever After says:

    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.

  • Marta @ What Should I eat for breakfast today says:

    I want a tower just like this one.

  • Ali | Gimme Some Oven says:

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

  • Gaby says:

    holy moly I need this in my life :)

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites says:

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

  • Jenny Flake says:

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

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts says:

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

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says:

    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!

  • Rachel Cooks says:

    These photos! YUM. I want to dive in.

  • Sel says:

    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.

  • Marie @ Little Kitchie says:

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

  • Carla @ Carlas Confections says:

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

  • naomi says:

    OMG – this looks and sounds killer!!!

  • dixya| food, pleasure, and health says:

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

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks says:

    I need to lie down.

  • nessa says:

    This i s insane !

  • Erin | The Law Student's Wife says:

    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!

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch} says:

    I do love me a hearty panini! looks great!

  • Gerry @ Foodness Gracious says:

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

  • katie says:

    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…

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

  • Tracy |Peanut Butter and Onion says:

    looks really yummy. Love your photos

  • claire @ the realistic nutritionist says:

    holy sweet heavens

  • Nutmeg nanny says:

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

  • Dave @ Fit Chef Chicago says:

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

  • Kristen M. says:

    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!

    • Michah says:

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

  • Marigold13 says:

    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!

    • Julie says:

      Sounds delicious!

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