Jim finally came around and requested that we eat less meat. Before I responded to his request, I took a few minutes to debate whether or not I should inform him that I've been trying to make him less meatcentric for a looooooong time. Every time I would make a meatless meal, he would complain that he was going to be hungry later. Well, he has finally come around! I hope his new found desire to eat less meat sticks, because I love to make meatless meals. Don't get me wrong - I love eating meat and will continue to do so. I just don't like to eat so much meat when there is so much more variety to to be had by incorporating more vegetables. Chicken, beef, or pork versus so many leafy greens and root vegetables, mushrooms, beans, peppers, squash, the "bunch" vegetables, and on and on and on...and so many colors!
So tonight, embracing my husbands desire to eat less meat, I decided to roast up some eggplant. (Did you know eggplant is a berry??? Crazy, but true.) I did some research into how necessary it is to salt and press the eggplant first, and after much investigation, I found this article which allowed me to feel guilt-free in skipping those tedious steps when roasting: http://articles.latimes.com/1996-10-10/food/fo-52229_1_grill-eggplant To sum it up, it basically only matters if you are frying the eggplant. So I skipped the salt and press, and it did not come out bitter at all. It came out perfect. I could have done a lot of things with the eggplant, but I chose to make paninis because I had some delicious panini bread laying around. I had a good amount of eggplant leftover after making up two sandwiches and I was super-grateful - I ate it all up after I finished my sandwich. I added the portobello because I love roasted portobello mushrooms, and since I was already roasting, then why not? Then I threw in some tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and pesto...absolute heaven...and Jim approved!
Sorry there are so few measurements, but this is really an "add what you want and as little or as much of it as you want" type of recipe. Do what you like and have fun with it. To be honest, Jim really wanted the tomato sauce on it - so I made it and it was good - but I bet this would have been even better with roasted tomatoes or roasted red peppers...or roasted garlic??? I am sensing a theme.
Roasted Eggplant and Portobello Panini
makes 2 sandwiches
1 medium or 2 small eggplants, peeled (I like to leave some of the peel just for the look of it) and sliced 3/4-inches thick
2 portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and gills removed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and cover with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Then lay the eggplant slices down in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. While the eggplant cooks, line and oil another baking sheet. Place the mushrooms gill-side down. Brush the tops with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper. After the eggplant has cooked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and flip them over. Then place them back into the oven along with the mushroom and cook for 12 minutes. When done, you can slice the mushrooms if you prefer (I left mine whole.) Assemble your panini. I did mushroom, sauce, cheese, eggplant, and brushed one slice of the bread with pesto. (I would add a lot more eggplant than you think is necessary - otherwise you won't taste it.) Then I grilled them on an oiled grill pan for about 5 minutes per side.