Eggplant is another one of those veggies that some people shy away from if they've had it undercooked. 'Curing' eggplant with salt before cooking leeches out some of the bitterness and the excess liquid. Grilled eggplant is delicious.
How to Cure Eggplant Before Cooking
Peel the eggplant in alternating strips (zebra like) and slice 1/4" thick. Sprinkle with salt on all sides. Place in a bowl lined with 2 - 3 thicknesses of unbleached paper towels, with more paper towels on top, and press with a heavy pot.
Wait 15 minutes. Then wipe eggplant off with fresh paper towels, removing as much salt as possible. Cut per recipe instructions. Reduce Salt in recipe by 1/2, and then add more to taste if needed.
For a tasty take away lunch, this Panini is satisfying and can be made the night before (without toasting bread) and grilled the next morning.
2 Tbs. Vegenaise 2 Tbs. organic fresh Basil, finely chopped 2 Tbs. extra-virgin Olive Oil, divided 8 slices (1/2 inch size) Eggplant 1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper 8 slices whole-grain Country Bread (e.g Trader Joe's Tuscan Whole Wheat Panini) 8 thin slices Rice cheese (fresh mozzarella for those who can have dairy) 1/2 c. sliced jarred Roasted Red Peppers 4 thin slices Red Onion
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Blend Vegenaise and basil in a blender. Using 1 tablespoon oil, lightly brush both sides of eggplant and sprinkle each slice with garlic salt and pepper.
With the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, brush one side of each slice of bread.
Grill the eggplant for 6 minutes, turn with a spatula, top with cheese, and continue grilling until the cheese is melted and the eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes more.
Toast the bread on the grill, 1-2 minutes per side.
To Assemble Panini
Spread 'basil mayonnaise' on half the slices of bread. Top with the cheesy eggplant, red peppers, onion and the remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve warm or room temperature.