Spicy Caponata Panini


Spicy Caponata Panini Recipe

This recipe highlights yet another great way to use Mama Lil's hot peppers.This is a Sicilian appetizer of sautéed eggplant in a sweet and sour (agrodolce) sauce. If you have a panini grill, it is a quick and easy way to make lunch for friends, or cube the panini to make a quick and delicious appetizer for everyday.

This recipe comes courtesy of Michael Natkin, renound food blogger (www.Herbivoracious.com), and cookbook author. Check out his blog at Herbivoracious.com.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 panini

1/2 cup Mama Lil’s Peppers (see note above)
1 medium eggplant, about 13 ounces, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Sea salt
2 teaspoons capers
5 pitted green olives, sliced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (aceto de vino)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch ground cinnamon
Freshly ground blacktellipcherry pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary leaves (preferably fresh)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 large slices of rustic Italian bread (not too thick)
2 cups grated scamorza cheese (or a mixture of smoked and regular mozzarella)

1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the oil from the peppers into the pan, reserving the peppers. If that hasn’t yielded a couple of tablespoons of oil, add a bit more olive oil as needed. Add the eggplant, onion, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt. Toss to coat the vegetables with oil and lower the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is thoroughly tender, browned, and no longer holding the cube shapes, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the reserved peppers, capers, olives, vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, cocoa powder, cinnamon, several grinds of black pepper and rosemary. Stir well and cook about 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. It may need more salt, vinegar, or spices to create a balanced flavor. Remove from the heat and mix in the parsley. At this point you can reserve the caponata in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days, or make the panini right away.

3. To make the panini, preheat your panini press or alternate cooking unit. Lay out four slices of bread, and top each with 1/2 cup of the caponata and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Cover with the remaining slice of bread. Cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 4-5 minutes. Using plenty of pressure to produce a nicely compressed sandwich. Serve hot.