Grilled Eggplant Panini with Sun-Dried Tomato Olive Tapenade

A big, fat panini brings me back to walking down the cobblestone streets of Italy, crunching on a warm, toasted panini with the sun shining on my face and the familiar sound of mopeds winding down bumpy streets.

It’s a beautiful picture, and that’s why I’m making this panini today! Grilled eggplant is meaty and charred, loaded on toasted bread with an incredible sun-dried tomato olive tapenade and stringy provolone cheese.

Close your eyes and you’ll be there with me…

My STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO below will help guide you through the recipe. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for recipe videos every week!



Makes: 4 paninis, plus extra tapenade

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

The Ingredients

8 slices good-quality olive ciabatta, sourdough or wheat bread

2 medium eggplants

8 slices provolone cheese (2 slices per panini)

12 fresh basil leaves (3 leaves per panini)

Balsamic glaze

Extra virgin olive oil

For tapenade: *

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and roughly chopped

½ cup pitted green olives (I like frescatrano or castelvetrano olives)

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or parmesan cheese)

½ cup basil, packed

½ lemon, juiced

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 anchovy fillet

*The ingredients for tapenade will yield leftovers! You can also use a jarred tapenade if you’d like to make these paninis in a pinch!




The Steps

For the tapenade: toast pine nuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Add all tapenade ingredients to a food processor and blend to desired smoothness. I like my tapenade almost smooth with a slight bite to it!

For grilled eggplant: remove the top and bottom of the eggplants. Cut into ¼ inch slices. Toss slices lightly in olive oil. Grill slices on each side for 3-4 minutes until slices have nice grill marks.

TIP: You can also pan-sear until light golden if you do not have access to a grill!

To assemble a panini: drizzle 2 slices of bread with olive oil. Add 2-3 slices of eggplant to one slice of bread, top with 1-2 slices of provolone, and 3 basil leaves. Use a knife or spatula to add a generous layer of tapenade to the other slice of bread, finishing with a drizzle of balsamic. Grill panini for 3-4 minutes a side until nice grill marks have formed. Slice and enjoy!

TIP: You can also toast your panini in a panini press or in a pan until golden brown.




The Steps with Video

My STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO below will help guide you through the recipe. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for recipe videos every week!


picture of grace eating

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