My very first job when I turned 16 was at a well-known bakery-café, and one of the biggest things that I miss about working there was the incredible paninis they made. All the different savory flavor combinations–my mouth is watering just thinking about it! When Donna, the cheese queen as I like to call her, shared this recipe with me it reminded me of those very paninis I loved and I couldn’t wait to try it out myself. The best part about it: I was able to incorporate some of my favorite items from the Vineyard Market into it!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium Italian eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4inch slices
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil
1 large loaf ciabatta bread
4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
11 ounces (1 package) Carr Valley Bread Cheese, cut in thick slices
2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1 jar Mitica Black Olive Tapanade
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine flour, salt and pepper on shallow plate. Coat each eggplant slice with flour.
In large skillet heat 1/4 cup olive oil over mediumhigh heat. Fry eggplant slices until golden brown on both sides, adding more oil as needed.
Fry in batches, if necessary. Remove eggplant from skillet blot lightly on paper towels.
Split ciabatta and cut in half. Spread tapanade on both top and bottom slices.
Arrange eggplant slices on bottom ciabatta half. Layer tomatoes, bread cheese and roasted peppers over the eggplant. Top sandwiches with remaining two halves.
Place sandwiches on large baking sheet Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey. Cut each half into 3 sandwiches. Serve warm.
Original recipe from the Wisconsin Cheese Board website.