It was gadget Thursday in the Bohlson kitchen tonight. I Decided to break out and dust of the fabulous panini griddle my creative and great gift giver Mother gave to us for Christmas to make some melty pressed panini’s. I also got to use our food processor again this week and I am really starting to love this thing. I grated fresh parmesan and made fresh/low cal pesto with very little effort. No cans or jars here! This pesto recipe cuts so many calories and fat by omitting pine nuts, Mike and I couldn’t even taste the difference. This is also a great pesto recipe for individuals with nut allergies.

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Makes 3-4 sandwiches (depending on how you slice your bread)

Ingredients for sandwiches

1 loaf or baguette of french bread ( approx 12 oz, our was 16 oz and i sliced of the ends to make pretty sandwiches)
1 large eggplant
8 slices of tomatoes
3-4 pieces of mozzarella cheese
kosher salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
2 tbsp of pesto sauce ( recipe below)

Ingredients for pesto sauce

1 cup fresh basil
2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese ( I bought an 8 oz wedge and grated it. I had tons for leftovers)
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

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The star players of the evening. My beautiful Cuisinart Food Processor and Cuisinart Panini Griddle.

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1) Cut wedge of parmesan cheese into 1 inch cubes. Toss into food processor and blend till grated. Mine resembled what you might find in a restaurant shaker of parm.  If you don’t have the desire to grate your own or don’t have a food processor you can use a microplane or cheese grater. You can also buy pre grated cheese at your local grocery store 🙂

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2) Pulse together basil, parm, garlic, salt and pepper to taste in food processor or blender. As you pulse ingredients together, slowly add olive oil. Blend till smooth and creamy. Place aside.

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3) Slice eggplant in 1/4 inch slices. I think mine were slightly larger than 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with salt and lay on paper towel. Set aside for 30 minutes to sweat. Pat eggplant dry after 30 minutes.

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4) Slice french baguette into 3 or 4 sandwiches. I chopped the end off of from both sides and ended up with 3 sandwiches. Next time I will make 4 pieces. I would def admit these were a little big. Mike was very satisfied!  I sliced a section out of the middle of my sandwiches to reduce calories. This also helped when pressing the sandwich on the griddle.  (By removing 1 ounce of bread from a 4 oz piece you save approx 65 calories, not bad at all! – www.skinnytaste.com)

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5)Slice tomatoes into thin slices. Preheat griddle. Grill eggplant. I grilled my eggplant on the griddle. Next time I might use the grill. Approx 7-8 minutes, flip half way through. I ended up just closing the cover to the griddle and they did not really need to be flipped.

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6) If you don’t have a panini press you can make panini’s  in a nonstick pan on the stove top. It’s the same as making grilled cheese, easy peasy!

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7) Assemble your sandwiches. Layer 2-3 slices of eggplant on one side and top with 1/2 tbsp of pesto. On the other side of sandwich place 1 piece of mozzarella chesse and 2 tomatoes.

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8) Spritz olive oil on top and bottom of sandwich and press on griddle till cheese is melty and hot.

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9) Slice in half and serve warm. Enjoy!

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(I couldn’t even finish my whole sandwich. Next time I will slice bread into 4 sandwiches) 

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Calorie Break Down

Eat Fit Not Fat- Pressed Eggplant and Pesto Panini- Approx 350 calories, 9 grams of fat.

Pesto that was used on sandwich 86 calories, 8 grams of fat per tbsp.

Recipe adapted from : http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/07/eggplant-panini-with-pesto.html