Ratatouille-Ish Eggplant Panini With Herb Aioli Recipe

Though we love to dance around our kitchen imagining ourselves with a strangely-talented chef rat on our heads, these paninis aren't based on the movie. If you aren't familiar with the dish beyond the Michelin-starred rodent, ratatouille is a rustic French stew composed of eggplant, squash, pepper, onion, garlic, and tomato that serves as a cozy vegetarian meal. You likely best recognize it in its modern form of thinly sliced vegetables tightly wound into a casserole dish and coated in tomato sauce, but at its core, ratatouille is just a stew with a bunch of chopped vegetables. Well, a really, really good stew.

Ratatouille takes time, and like most French dishes, precise technique to make well. And while vegetables are great year-round, a stew can be a pain to make in the heat of summer. So why not take the essence of ratatouille and press it into a panini?

This recipe developed with Michelle McGlinn makes ratatouille a lunchtime affair. The veggies are first roasted to tender before being pressed between French bread and sandwiched between herb-packed aioli. What better way to complement a French dish than with a French condiment? The herby mayo gives the roasted vegetables a punchy flavor that makes you wish every French stew could be turned into a simple pressed panini.

The ingredients needed for ratatouille-ish eggplant paninis

You'll need to spend a lot of time in the produce aisles for this sandwich. You'll first need a large eggplant, zucchini, any color bell pepper (we like red or yellow), fresh thyme, chives, basil, parsley, lemon, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Besides produce, you'll also need olive oil, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, and mozzarella. Finally, for the bread, choose a crusty bread like French, sourdough, or Italian cut into ½-inch slices.

Roast the veggies

Turning on the oven for a panini doesn't seem ideal, we know; however, if you put the veggies on your panini raw, they'll be crunchy and a little bitter. The veggies can be made up to a week in advance, so if you want quick lunches during the week, roast your veggies on Sunday and store them in the refrigerator to pop onto sandwiches later on.

To roast the veggies, just arrange the slices on a parchment-lined sheet tray and drizzle with oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast until softened and golden, about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Mix the aioli

While the veggies are roasting, mix together the mayo, lemon, garlic, thyme, chives, basil, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adjusting the mayo or lemon as well, if needed. For example, if the aioli is too mayo-forward, add more lemon and another clove of garlic. If the aioli is too lemony, swirl in another spoonful of mayonnaise. The aioli can also be stored for up to a week, so if you're meal-prepping your veggies, go ahead and mix this together, too.

Press the panini and serve

Grease both irons on the panini press and turn it to high heat. Build your sandwich, layering the pepper, then eggplant, onion, zucchini, cheese, tomato, and aioli onto a slice of bread. Add the top slice and press down, then firmly shut the panini press onto the sandwich, pressing down as needed. Press the panini until deeply browned and melty.

To serve, slice the panini in half and eat immediately. The sandwich is great on its own, but we love a soup and sandwich combo — this vegetarian panini can be paired with lentil soup, black bean soup, or even a loaded veggie soup. Hey, why not get all your veggies for the day right at noon?

Ratatouille-Ish Eggplant Panini With Herb Aioli Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
This recipe makes ratatouille a lunchtime affair with roasted veggies being pressed between French bread and sandwiched between herb-packed aioli.
Prep Time
Cook Time
half of panini on table
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Add eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper to the sheet tray. Coat with olive oil, then season with 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once soft, remove from the oven.
  4. In the meantime, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, 1 tablespoon thyme, chives, basil, and parsley until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. To build the paninis, layer the peppers on a piece of sourdough. Add the eggplant, then the onion, zucchini, cheese, tomato, and a spoonful of aioli. Top with a second piece of bread.
  6. Press the panini between a panini press until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from the panini press and cut in half to serve.
Calories per Serving 320
Total Fat 12.3 g
Saturated Fat 3.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 14.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 41.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Total Sugars 6.2 g
Sodium 532.9 mg
Protein 11.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe