Eggplant Paninis are a simple 4 ingredient lunch or dinner, with grilled eggplant, marinara sauce, and gooey melty cheese! Leftover spaghetti sauce, frozen in small containers, works perfectly for this quick and delicious panini sandwich! They take just 20 minutes to make!
- Eggplant - Eggplant isn't always the most popular vegetable. But, grilled up and nestled in between toasty bread with oozy cheese may just change your mind! It's nutritious and makes a great vegetarian meal!
- Marinara Sauce - This is where the freezer trick comes in! Sure you can buy a jar of marinara sauce, really any red tomato sauce will work for these paninis. But, whenever I make a large pot of Mom's Homemade Spaghetti or any red pasta sauce like this Sausage, Peppers and Onions Marinara Pasta, I freeze the leftovers in different amounts. Some I put in large containers to reheat as another spaghetti and pasta meal. Some goes into pint jars for homemade pizza sauce. And some I put in small containers, like half pint jars, to use for flatbread pizzas, or these eggplant paninis. This allows me to never need to buy jarred pizza or marinara sauce, and always have just the right amount!
- Provolone Cheese - Any melty white sliced cheese will work here such as provolone, mozzarella, or white cheddar. Fresh mozzarella slices would also be delicious!
- French or Italian Bread - Really any hearty white panini bread works best, often a rustic loaf that you slice yourself.
These quick paninis are super delicious and easy!
Step 1 - Preheat an outdoor grill. Then, prepare an eggplant by slicing it into rounds, and tossing it in olive oil, salt and pepper.
Step 2 - Then I grill the whole thing, which will probably be more than you need for one meal. Just store the rest in the fridge and it will last a few days for another panini or chop it and toss into pasta.
Step 3 - Then simply assemble your sandwiches with the grilled eggplant, your thawed marinara sauce, and cheese. Spread a little butter or olive oil on the outsides of the bread and cook them in your panini press until golden brown.
If you don't have a panini press, you can toast these sandwiches in a skillet, flipping them halfway through when the bread gets toasty!
Extra grilled eggplant can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and used within 3 days. Leftover paninis can also be refrigerated and reheated the next day, either again in the panini press, the microwave or the oven.
What to Serve with Eggplant Paninis
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- outdoor grill
- panini press or skillet
- 1 eggplant olive oil salt and pepper
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- 8 slices French or Italian bread spread with butter or olive oil
- Preheat an outdoor grill. Slice eggplant into rounds and toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill.
- Assemble sandwiches with eggplant, marinara sauce, and cheese and spread butter or olive oil on the outsides of the bread. Cook in a panini press or skillet until melted and golden brown.
- Marinara sauce can be store-bought or leftover spaghetti sauce or any red pasta sauce that has been frozen. Italian Sausage Bolognese or Grandpa's Spaghetti and Meatballs all work as leftover marinara sauce. Freezing small quantities of marinara sauce allows you to never need to buy jarred sauce, and always have just the right amount! Thaw it overnight in the fridge or for a few hours on the counter.
- Use any white cheese such as provolone, mozzarella, white cheddar or slices of fresh mozzarella.