Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese
Today, I’m offering some straight-talk life advice, drawn from personal experience. Ready for me lay this on you? If it tastes good, turn into a sandwich. This sage tenet has yet to fail me, and Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese is the latest evidence—we’re onto something here.
If it’s a flavor I love, it’s destined to be served between two slices of bread. This is my calling. The universe paired me with a Panini press at the beginning of time, and one should not argue with the universe, especially when its bidding results in Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese.
A few weeks ago, I posted a Roasted Carrot Grilled Cheese with Havarti and pickles, and you brave souls both gobbled it up and converteed your skeptical significant others. The same was true with my Apple Butter, Turkey, and Cheddar Grilled Cheese. Clearly, wacky creative grilled cheese has a place in your hearts, and I only adore you the more for it. Let’s continue our delightful grilled cheese relationship with savory, creamy Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese.
Friends, I may run a food blog, but the dirty truth is that I make some iteration of grilled cheese for dinner at least once a week. Despite the evidence on my Facebook and Instragram feeds, Ben and I don’t subsist on brownie cookies and coffee cake alone. We subsist on cookies, cake, and grilled cheese! Grilled cheese is quick, endlessly adaptable, straight-up gooey goodness.
Last Tuesday, Ben packed his books for his “last first day” of law school. Just one more year (along with a little something called the bar exam), and he’ll be a full-fledged J.D. Our lazy summer nights have given way to the school rush, and I’m down my dish washer sous chef number one. When California Olive Ranch approached me to help create recipes for its Quick and Easy Recipe Campaign, the timing could not have been more appropriate. Back to school is such a busy time for many families, and the more quick, simple dinner ideas we can have in our arsenals, the better. Enter: Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese, a.k.a. The Suped Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
Throughout the entire month of September, I’ll be sharing a series of Quick and Easy Recipes in partnership with California Olive Ranch. If you are feeling crunched for time because of back to school, your work schedule, or just life in general (or if you just want to eat something besides cheese and crackers for dinner…again) this is the series for you.
Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese is the ideal quick and easy meal. The eggplant roasting is completely hands-off—you don’t even need to peel it. If you are not feeling the eggplant vibe, swap whatever roasted vegetables suit your fancy or match your outfit. The creamy ricotta and Parmesan spread takes 30 seconds to stir together, but it turns the sandwich totally gourmet. It’s the killer red lipstick to my messy bun: Min effort points, max style points.
To take things over the top (this meal may be quick, but we’re still overachievers), let’s dunk our completed grilled cheese in warm tomato sauce. If Italians dunked their grilled cheese into tomato soup, it would be this simple, yet elevated Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese and well, probably their grandmother’s secret tomato sauce. Your favorite store brand pasta sauce just fine—no need to be that overachieving. It is quick and easy dinner night after all.
Searching for the perfect panini press to create your own unique grilled cheese combos? I own and love this one from Cuisinart, which also transforms into a flat grilling surface and the plates flip into a griddle, making it incredibly versatile. If you are looking for a more economical option (and don’t need the multi-plates), this model will also give you the toasty sammies of your dreams.
Join me all month long for more Quick and Easy recipe ideas, starting with today’s Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese!
Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese
Hearty roasted eggplant paired with creamy ricotta, flavorful Parmesan and fresh basil. This elegant grilled cheese sandwich takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, making it the perfect option for a quick meal.
Yield: 2 sandwiches, Serves 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 medium eggplant (12 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I heart California Olive Ranch)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 black pepper
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (5 ounces)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for grilling
- Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat mat and brush with olive oil. Spread eggplant slices on the oiled baking sheet in a single layer, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes, flipping eggplant slices over half way through. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat a Panini press or large skillet to medium high. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, parmesan and fresh basil. Spread butter on one side of each bread slice.
- Assemble sandwiches: Spread the unbuttered side of each bread slice with 1/4 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top two bread slices with roasted eggplant each, then set remaining bread slices on top, cheese side down. Grill sandwiches 3-4 minutes in a Panini press (or 2-3 minutes on each side if using a skillet), until bread is toasted and sandwich is warmed through. Slice in half and serve immediately.
This sandwich is a perfect way to enjoy many of your favorite roasted vegetables. Try swapping the eggplant for any combination of roasted zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, or carrots.
Disclaimer: This recipe was created by me on behalf of California Olive Ranch. California Olive Ranch compensated me for my time to develop and photograph this recipe and provided product for my personal use. All opinions are, as always, my own.