One of my favorite types of pasta is Pasta alla Norma, a traditional Sicilian dish. Typically made with Rigatoni, heavily garlicked roasted eggplant is tossed with tomato sauce and long twirls of ricotta salata, a harder, feta-like version of ricotta. Sounds delicious? It is. And you should try making it. But, again, this is not the point. The point is that my mother had made a whole container of roasted eggplant at the beginning of the week for sandwiches, omelets and such. I was hungry today, and I needed something rich, good and Italian. I found some of the eggplant and– hey! Why not make a pasta alla Norma panini, minus the pasta, plus some good bread.
I rubbed garlic and oil over some sourdough I had on hand, spread some tomato sauce and the eggplant on one slice and thin slices of mozzarella on another.
For this sandwich, a panini press/George Forman is awesome, but not necessary. It will be just as incredible on a smoking hot pan pressed down with something heavy– a skillet, a pot, a pan, a brick– whatever you’ve got.
You’ll want the bread crispy, so that if you flick it with your nail, it makes a sound. And the cheese should be VERY melted– not semi-hard. If it is rolling out of the sides, even better. (*cough cough* see picture)
In the end, I’ve won for now in the pasta into sandwich experiment. Let’s try it again soon.
Serves 1, but feel free to double, triple or sextuple this recipe
- 2 slices good bread… Sourdough is amazing, but Baguette, Ciabatta or any of that type would be great, too. Even a good pullman would work. KEEP IN MIND: If you use a thinner bread like Baguette, make sure you cut your mozz a bit smaller. You may need to fold your eggplant, as well.
- Tomato sauce. I am very partial to Dave’s Heirloom Tomato sauce, and slightly impartial to the oregano heavy marinara, but use your favorite.
- Roasted Eggplant- use this recipe, but cut them into discs– You will need about 3 or 4 slices BUT please make the whole batch. It is good to have on hand for other ‘wiches, salads, eggs, pasta and such.
- Fresh Mozzarella (the good kind. and please NOT SHREDDED.)
- Olive Oil, salt, pepper and about 1 clove garlic (garlic is optional)
- Brush your bread with olive oil using a pastry brush. If you don’t have one, drizzle with a spoon, but make sure you get a bunch on there. Peel the garlic and rub the bread generously with it. You will taste it. Grind a little salt and pepper on here.
- Using a spoon, spread some of the tomato sauce on one slice. Not too much, because it shouldn’t be overstuffed, but there should be a good amount. Place eggplant slices atop the sauce.
- Slice your mozzarella thinly and add a generous amount to the other slice.
- Brush some oil onto a panini press or George Foreman grill, getting it sizzling hot OR heat oil in a pan. Put the sandwich on the press/pan and press down. If using a pan, apply pressure with something heavy. Cast iron skillets are good. The bread should be CRISPY and hard if you tap it, and the cheese should be fully melted, if not leaking out of the sides.
Hope you loved the recipe!
I have some great new posts coming up so stay tuned!
And as always,
Keep cooking 😉