1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into Ĺ-inch slices
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
† teaspoon garlic powder
† teaspoon onion powder
† teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 slices artisan Italian bread
3/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh basil
Prepare the eggplant by generously salting both sides of the eggplant slices and laying them flat between sheets of paper towel. Let the eggplant sit like this for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe ingredients.
Prepare a dredging station. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper in a shallow dish. Whisk the milk and mayonnaise together in a small bowl until smooth.
Pre-heat the air fryer to 400 degrees F.
Brush the excess salt from the eggplant slices and then coat both sides of each slice with the mayonnaise mixture. Dip the eggplant into the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs onto the eggplant to coat both sides of each slice. Place all the coated eggplant slices on a plate or baking sheet and spray both sides with olive oil. Air-fry the eggplant slices in batches for 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.
Once all of the eggplant has been browned, assemble the Panini. Generously brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. Place 2 slices of bread on a cutting board, oiled side down. Top each slice with a quarter of the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese. Divide the cooked eggplant between the two Panini, placing them on the cheese. Spoon the tomato sauce evenly over the eggplant and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle with the chopped fresh basil and place the second slices of bread on top, oiled side up.
Place sandwiches onto a pre-heated contact grill or Panini press and close the lid, press down slightly to make sure bread will brown evenly. Grill for 10 minutes until bread is toasted and cheese is melted. Alternately, grill the Panini in a grill pan with a weighted press on top and flip it over halfway through cooking.
Return the finished Panini to a cutting board and let them rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Then, cut each Panini in half and serve immediately.
There are a few steps to making this Panini, but itís worth it in the end. It takes all the flavors of Eggplant Parmesan and puts it in a hearty Panini! Salting eggplant before cooking may extract an enzyme that tends to give eggplant a bitter taste (thereís much debate on this), but more importantly it helps to draw moisture out of the eggplant leaving you with a more pleasant and less fibrous texture. Though it may seem alarming to sprinkle a lot of salt on the eggplant, rest assured that you brush most of the salt off the slices before cooking it, and your eggplant will be seasoned perfectly.