This is basically an eggplant panini, but without any bread. The eggplant serves as the outside of the sandwich and the cheese interior melts into the eggplant while cooking.
- 1 large eggplant -
- ½ tsp salt -
- 1 large chunk fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼-inch slices (about 10 slices) -
- 10–12 fresh basil leaves -
- 2 large eggs -
- 1 cup all-purpose flour -
- ½ tsp garlic powder -
- ½ tsp salt -
- several turns freshly ground pepper, to taste -
- 1 cup water -
- oil for frying -
1. Slice the eggplant into ¾-inch-thick rounds. Then slice through the middle of the round, until about 1 inch from the other side, creating a slit in the eggplant slice. Place the slices on two layers of paper towels and sprinkle tops and between slits with ¼ tsp of salt. Turn the slices over and sprinkle the other ¼ tsp of salt all over.
2. After half an hour, press a paper towel on top of the eggplant slices to draw out some of the bitter liquid. Let sit another half hour. Rinse briefly and then dry well with paper towels. In a large frying pan, add oil just to cover the pan and heat on medium-high flame until it feels hot when you place your hand an inch above the pan and you have to remove your hand 3 seconds later. Take each eggplant piece and place 1 slice of cheese and 1 basil leaf into the slit, creating a sandwich.
3. In a shallow bowl, place the egg, flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and water and mix with a fork. Take each sandwich and dip each side of the eggplant into the batter. Place into the hot oil and cook until browned, about 2 minutes for each side. Remove to paper towel and cool until cool enough to touch. Serve sliced in half or quarters. May be served with marinara sauce for dipping.