Lamb, Eggplant and Feta Cheese Panini

1 cup canned grilled eggplant pulp, such as Cortas brand (may substitute store-bought eggplant spread)
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 medium lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 to 12 ounces roasted leg of lamb, preferably rare
4 oval pita breads or flatbreads (may substitute four 3-by-5-inch slices Barbary bread, cut in half horizontally)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (may substitute a queso fresco, such as anejo or cotija cheese)

Place the eggplant pulp in bowl of a food processor. Coarsely chop the garlic and add that to the food processor, along with the tahini. Squeeze in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pulse until mixture is smooth; season with the salt and pepper to taste. Finely chop the parsley leaves, discarding stems, and set aside.

Heat a panini press according to manufacturer's directions, or heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat and wrap aluminum foil around bottom of a filled tea kettle (for pressing sandwiches); a bacon press also may be used.

Meanwhile, cut the lamb into thin slices or bite-sized chunks. If using pita breads, cut in half horizontally (to form 4 pairs of flat sandwich layers). Brush tops and bottoms lightly with the olive oil. If using flatbreads, brush tops with olive oil and place flatbreads so long sides are parallel to the edge of counter, oiled side down, on work surface.

Spread baba ghanoush so it covers insides of 4 pita bread halves. If using flatbreads, spread it on right half of each one. Arrange lamb slices on top of spread, then distribute the feta evenly on meat and sprinkle parsley over cheese. Place top pita layers, oiled sides up, on fillings to form flat sandwiches. If using flatbreads, fold them over, left to right, to cover filling, pressing down firmly.

Place 2 sandwiches on heated panini press and close. If using flatbreads, place 2 sandwiches in the heated skillet and weigh them down with covered tea kettle or bacon press. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Carefully transfer sandwiches to individual plates and cover loosely with foil to keep them warm while you repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches. Serve warm with a Greek salad.

Makes 4 servings.

— Recipe adapted by The Washington Post from "Panini Express: 70 Delicious Recipes, Hot off the Press," by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman (Taunton, 2008).


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