Get our recipe for Eggplant Caprese Salad plus find out more about the Panera at Home product line of tasty treats like soup, bread, and salad dressings. This post has been sponsored by Panera Bread Long Island. All opinions are our own.
Fifteen years ago, a dear friend of mine got married down in DC. She was one of the first to become a “Mrs.” and since none of us had children yet, it turned into a weekend extravaganza. The day of the wedding a luncheon was served for the bridal party and I was in charge of going with the bride to pick up the food.
I can barely navigate the inside of a paper bag without getting lost, so imagine my confusion (and horror) watching her weave her car in and out of traffic and side streets that day. Every street seemed to be one way only and definitely not wide enough to drive down. When we finally arrived at our destination, we were in front of a store called Panera Bread.
The store was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was squeaky clean. It smelled like fresh bread. And, I wanted to eat everything – and anything – I set my eyes on. Imagine how excited I was when I found out that Panera Bread was catering my friend’s luncheon that day! YUM!
The rest, as people say, is history. As I bit into my first Panera Bread sandwich that afternoon, I knew I would be a loyal customer forever more. Unfortunately, I would need to wait until they opened up on Long Island. But ever since we’ve had them in NY, it’s been my family’s “go to” spot when we want a quick bite to eat that’s nourishing, wholesome, and healthy.
Everyone in my family has a favorite menu item to eat. Most of the time, mine is the Frontega Chicken Panini and the Low-fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup. But with summer in full swing, I’ve been testing out their seasonal salads. I’ve really been trying to eat all of my veggies and their salads are a delicious way to get them all in.
Plus, Panera Bread’s lead dietitian, Katie Bengston, has created six new balanced menu items for those looking to follow a Plant Based, Protein Rich, or Nutrient-Packed diet. These 3 new Curated Menu Paths with customized recipes meet the diet and lifestyle choices of their varied guests:
1.) Plant Based
For vegetarians, vegans or simply those that like veggies, health managers, eco-friendly and socially conscious guests:
- Ancient Grain Greek Salad
- Watermelon Arugula Salad with Almonds (Mmm! A personal favorite!)
2.) Protein Rich
For fitness minded guests wanting a protein rich meal for lasting energy with at least 20% of the recommended daily protein value. Great for the health conscious guest, paleo, and lower carb, higher protein guests:
- Avocado Cobb Salad with Chicken (My husband’s favorite!)
- Seasonal Greens with Roasted Turkey
Panera’s take on a well-balanced menu that fuels you without over-indulging for our health and calorie conscious guests:
- Blueberry and White Balsamic Salad
- Strawberry Poppyseed Greens with Roasted Turkey
Panera At Home Product Line
Also, new this year is the Panera at Home line of tasty treats like soup, chili, bread, pasta, mac-and-cheese, coffee, and salad dressings. Available at select retailers, my favorite products so far have been the salad dressings. Specifically, I’m in love with the Poppyseed Dressing and the Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.
With flavorful dressings like these in my fridge, I can whip up amazing salads in no time at all. They help me prepare veggie-full meals for my family like our Eggplant Caprese Salad below.
Eggplant Caprese Salad
- 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Fresh basil
- Panera At Home Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Step 1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Step 2.) Lay some parchment paper down on your work surface. Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant rounds with salt and let them rest for 15 minutes to draw out the moisture. Using paper towels, blot up any moisture from both sides of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle generously with pepper and lightly with salt.
Step 3.) In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs. In a second bowl, add breadcrumbs and parmesan. Dip and coat each side of the eggplant slices in the whisked eggs and then press into the breadcrumbs to coat each side. Place eggplant slices on the cooling rack.
Step 4.) Bake eggplant for 8-10 minutes. Turn each slice at the midway point. If they are sticking, spray the cooling rack with more cooking spray. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Step 5.) To make the Eggplant Caprese stacks: Place a large slice of eggplant on a plate. Top eggplant with a slice of tomato and a slice mozzarella cheese. Then, top cheese with red onions and fresh basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then drizzle with some Panera At Home Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. Repeat as needed.
Tip: I freeze any remaining eggplant slices on sheets of parchment paper wrapped in plastic wrap. This way, I can pull out as many slices as I need and just pop them in the oven for a few minutes to heat up. Within minutes, I can get a quick mid-week meal on the table that everyone loves!
Not a fantastic home cook?
Never fear. Panera also has many delicious options for you to choose from in their brick and mortar locations. Plus, if you order ahead of time, you can take it home and serve it for dinner. No one will ever know Panera made it for you…unless you tell them!
What’s your favorite Panera Bread menu item?
Want more tasty recipes to drool over?
- Mom’s Super Simple Tomato and Zucchini Bake
- Easy Baked Acorn Squash Recipe, Kid Friendly
- Healthy Homemade Salsa Recipe
- banana spinach smoothie kids love