Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Panini

At one time, a few years ago, I had almost 15 magazine subscriptions coming to my mailbox – everything from Food & Wine to People to The Industry Standard (any former dot-commers remember that one?). Even though I’ve cut that number back to about 5 or 6, keeping up with popular culture through glossy magazine pages is still one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind.

Download Gourmet Live for free on iTunesI recently found myself captivated for the better part of an hour by Gourmet Live, the reincarnation of Gourmet magazine on the iPad. Browsing the pages is almost like a game – as I read through the various articles I was “rewarded” with the opportunity to unlock even more content, such as a collection of essays by legendary American food writer M.F.K. Fisher and a series of decadent chocolate recipes. It’s like a modern day Choose Your Own Adventure (once again, I date myself as a child of the ’80s).

In the course of my browsing and unlocking – they even give you an audible “Ding!” when you discover new content – I came across a recipe for Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Hero sandwiches. That got me thinking…no, I actually haven’t made eggplant parm panini yet (I did do Chicken Parmesan Panini in my first year of the blog).

Eggplant Parmigiana Panini are super easy and relatively quick to make. You can even use your panini maker to grill the eggplant. Flavor-wise, they’re fantastic, just like eggplant parmigiana in sandwich form. I relegated the marinara toward the middle of the sandwich to keep the moisture out of the bread. Plus you get nice bursts of sauce in each bite. 🙂

Panini-grilled eggplant


Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana Panini

Makes 4 panini


1 eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/2″ slices
Olive oil, for brushing
8 slices Italian bread (denser is better)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup store-bought or homemade marinara
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped


Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.*

Lay out eggplant slices on a clean surface, like a cutting board. Brush olive oil on top of each slice; season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant slices seasoned side-down on the panini grill (you’ll need to work in batches). Brush olive oil on the other side of each slice, season with salt and pepper and close the grill lid. Grill eggplant for 4-5 minutes until cooked through and tender. Set eggplant aside and cover with foil to keep warm.

Unplug the grill, carefully wipe it clean, and reheat it to medium-high heat.

For each sandwich: Pile a few tablespoons of the mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano onto a slice of bread. Add a few spoonfuls of marinara on top of the cheese. Layer on 2 slices of eggplant, 1/4 of the basil, a sprinkling of cheese, another slice of eggplant, a few more spoonfuls of marinara, and another few tablespoons of cheese. Close the sandwich with a second slice of bread. Brush olive oil on top.

Grill the sandwich for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Cut in half, serve immediately and enjoy!

* If you don’t have a panini maker you can always sauté the eggplant in a skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until very tender. You can bake the assembled sandwiches in an oven or toaster oven at 350° until the cheese is melted and bread is toasted, about 7 or 8 minutes.



KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. Lauren wrote:

    I love that you even cooked the eggplant on the panini press! Looks delicious.

    Posted 11.10.10 Reply
  2. Rich wrote:

    See, now that’s creativity, doing the eggplant first and then the sandwich. I’m typically a meat guy, but I’d totally dig into this.

    Posted 11.10.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I’m with you, Rich – I usually prefer meat on my sandwiches but something about the flavor and texture of grilled eggplant just does it for me!

      Posted 11.10.10 Reply
  3. Kristen wrote:

    I LOVE Gormet Live, don’t you? This panini looks amazing!

    Posted 11.10.10 Reply
  4. Carole wrote:

    I’m moving an iPad from my “want” to “need” list. I miss Gourmet!

    Posted 11.10.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      You have to see how beautiful the photos appear on the screen!

      Posted 11.10.10 Reply
  5. Nik wrote:

    Looks really delicious, beautiful and yummy

    Posted 11.10.10 Reply
  6. How did I miss this one on Gourmet Live. it looks wonderful.

    Posted 11.12.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      It’s on one of the Italian-themed sections, one of the first ones.

      Posted 11.12.10 Reply
  7. Audrey wrote:

    That looks absolutely wonderful. I just found your page while I was searching out new panini recipes (I got my first panini press for Christmas after begging Santa for one ever since the day I got back from Rome). I love the idea of grilling the eggplant on the press and I thought about doing a similar recipe, but I never considered using Parmigiano-Reggiano in it. I grow eggplant in my urban container garden and end up with more than I know what to do with…thank you for solving that problem! I can’t wait until summer.

    Posted 1.8.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      How fun to be able to grow your own eggplant. Congrats on the new grill, Audrey!

      Posted 1.8.11 Reply
  8. Chris G wrote:

    Pressing and grilling the eggplant first sounds like it takes a lot of the work out of preparing eggplant – i.e. the salting, pressing, waiting to get the water out. I’d love to know if this really does make the eggplant dryer … will find out tonight when I try it. Thanks for the blog.

    Posted 2.12.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Well, it’s really more grilling than pressing. I wouldn’t recommend applying too much pressure to the eggplant – just grill it like you might normally do on an outdoor grill (except it takes less time because the heat is coming from both sides). Good luck with it – hope you enjoy it!

      Posted 2.12.11 Reply