1 small eggplant, very thinly slicedSea salt ¼ cup olive oil ½ cup balsamic vinegar 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 cloves garlic 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 ciabatta rolls, halved or 8 slices of bread 1 heirloom or regular tomato, sliced 1/2 red onion, sliced 1/2 cup fresh basil 1 avocado, sliced Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper
Lay the eggplant slices on a tray and salt one side liberally. This will “sweat” the eggplant and get rid of any bitter taste. After about 20 minutes, wipe the salt and released moisture from the eggplant with a paper towel, or rinse in a colander and pat dry.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium/high. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with oil. Grill on both sides until each slice becomes tender with prominent grill marks. I use tongs while flipping for best control. Once your eggplant slices are grilled to perfection, remove them from the heat and let them sit in the bowl of balsamic vinegar to soak up the flavor.
Blend the white beans, olive oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
For each panini, spread both pieces of bread with the garlic white bean puree. Layer a couple slices of balsamic grilled eggplant, tomato, onion, basil, and avocado, and season with salt and pepper.
Brush the top and bottom of the panini generously with oil and press according to your panini press directions. Get it while it’s hot n' crusty!