Have you heard about this contest that Mezzetta is hosting, Make That Sandwich? The grand prize is $25,000. For a sandwich recipe. Obviously, there’s going to be some stiff competition for this prize, but what the heck, right? The basic rules are that you just have to include at least two Mezzetta products in the recipe, which is pretty easy. I already had several Mezzetta products on hand and they sent me a few more. The Castelvetrano olives they sent me did not make it into the recipe. But they did make it into my belly. Almost all at once.
Anyhoo, my main inspiration for this sandwich was baby eggplants from the international market. You can also use regular eggplant, but I think baby eggplant works best. No one wants to eat old eggplant, which can get tough and bitter very quickly. Particularly not on a sandwich.
So, about the sandwich. There’s a lot going on here, but it really came together nicely. It tastes very decadent. You can make it vegan by substituting shortening for butter in the scone and omitting the goat cheese, but I feel like the goat cheese really added a required tartness. Perhaps some vegan cream cheese would be a good sub. Also, this scone is a variation of my tomato-fest-losing scone, which I hope doesn’t hurt my chances. Regardless of those judges’ opinions, the scone is really fantastic. Also goes well with squash soup! Which I know for certain because we had it a couple of weeks ago when I was testing the scone recipe.
Another issue that might hurt my chances is “ease of preparation.” Though this is easy to make, it does require some planning to do the eggplant filling (which should marinate overnight). But I wanted to do it right. This is one amazingly tasty sandwich.
Marinated Eggplant Scone Panini
For the eggplant filling:
½ pound baby eggplants, thinly sliced
¾ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Mezzetta® crushed garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
additional salt for eggplant preparation
Place a single layer of eggplant in a colander and salt generously. Repeat with additional layers until all eggplant has been salted in the colander and set aside for one hour.
After an hour, rinse the salt off the eggplant and blot dry.
Mix the remaining ingredients together in a covered bowl, toss in the eggplant and refrigerate overnight.
For the bread (scone):
Savory Roasted Red Pepper Cornmeal Scones
adapted from Cooking Light
yield: 4 scones
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup diced Mezzetta® roasted red pepper, squeezed and drained
1/3 cup buttermilk*
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender, 2 knives or food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in roasted red pepper. Add buttermilk and stir just until moist.
Pat dough into a 6-inch circle (about hand-size) on a baking sheet lightly coated with oil and cut into 4 wedges. Bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes until golden.
*to make buttermilk, add 1/3 tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup and fill the rest of the way to 1/3 cup with milk and let stand for 5 minutes (or while you’re doing the other prep)
For the sandwich:
Marinated eggplant (recipe above)
Savory roasted red bell pepper cornmeal scones (recipe above)
2 ounces of goat cheese (and water to mix)
Mezzetta® Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
2 ounces of fresh arugula
Lightly pan-fry the marinated eggplant over medium heat until tender. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
Combine the goat cheese in a bowl with about a teaspoon of water and mix until creamy and spreadable.
Slice the scones in half horizontally and lightly toast. Spread one side of the scone with the creamy goat cheese. Top the goat cheese with a layer of eggplant. Then spoon a generous amount of Mezzetta® Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto on top of the eggplant. Finally, place half an ounce or so of fresh arugula on top of the pesto and place the other half of the scone on top. Serve immediately.
Note: save the eggplant marinade in the refrigerator and use again or use the oil to make a yummy fresh tomato sauce.
Want to enter your own sandwich creation? Better hurry, entries for the contest will be accepted only until September 2nd! Check out all the rules here.