Lunch is a meal I struggle with, both at work and on the weekends. During the week I just do not have much time to throw together a lunch consisting of more than leftovers or fruit, yogurt, cheese and crackers. On the weekends, I should theoretically have more time and energy but usually I’ve got so many activities and tasks planned that lunch gets pushed to the back burner and I end up making a grilled cheese (or better yet, having Ben make one for me :) ) Not that I don’t love grilled cheese because I really do, but sometimes it’s nice to switch it up a bit.
I’m not one to eat Thanksgiving leftovers more than once or twice, so I planned this eggplant marinara flatbread for a lazy weekend lunch after the big holiday was over. It really didn’t take much more effort than a grilled cheese and it was a nice change from the usual. Plus, it’s got lots of things I love: bread? Good. Eggplant? Good. Cheese? Gooood. (Friends, anyone?) Cut into small slices as I did, this could also make a great appetizer for a party. It reminds me a lot of an eggplant Parmesan panini but without the trouble of actually making eggplant Parmesan. Score!
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 (1/3-1/2-inch thick) slices eggplant, about 4 inches in diameter
Thick slices artisan bread, such as ciabatta, Italian, etc. (about 9 x 12 inches surface area)
Marinara sauce (about 1 cup)
1 oz. soft fresh goat cheese (I used garlic herb)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Lay the eggplant in the heated skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, turning, until the eggplant is lightly browned on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Brush the cut side of the bread slices with the remaining oil and cook in the warm skillet on medium-high heat until golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
Lay the bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread a thin layer of the marinara sauce on each slice. Crumble the goat cheese over the marinara and sprinkle with chopped basil. Lay the egg plant slices on top of the marinara. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the eggplant slices and dot lightly with remaining marinara sauce.
Bake until the topping is hot and slightly browned, about 12 minutes. Slice into small pieces. Garnish with additional basil leaves as desired.