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Eggplant Caponata & Sausage Sandwiches

Aaaaand I’m back.  The Scoop is closed—for good, rather than just the season.  We decided it was all just too much—juggling our full time jobs plus trying to make sure our business ran well & didn’t fall into disrepair.  There are so many things I wish we could have done with it—more recipes, more branding, more promotions, more fundraisers… but there was just never enough time.  And given that we’d like to start a family soon, that would be WAYYYYYY too much to juggle. 

Closing up shop for the last time.

It’s a little bittersweet… I mean, yes, it definitely ran us ragged and most people just went all “O_o” when we told them we had full time jobs in addition to running the Scoop, but at the same time…it was our baby.  We have a lot of pride in our ability to have even attempted owning a business while still holding on to our “day jobs”, and the fact that it was also SUCCESSFUL (in a town with 899 other restaurants, and the home of Andy’s frozen custard) feels good too.  And we had some truly awesome employees who we won’t get to see every day anymore, and I’ll miss chatting with our regular customers…not to mention the look on every kids’ face when you hand them a giant ice cream cone, so they can cram their face-hole full of sugar & sprinkles… that little twinkle that says, “no nap for me today!  MUahahahahAHAHAHahahah!!!!”

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This load of cuteness brought to you by my sis-in-law’s womb. Yes…we stuff them full of ice cream, AND buy them 100-piece toys for Christmas.  She’ll get us back one day.

So, now that I theoretically have some “free time” again, it’s time to get caught up on some posts!  Because I haven’t stopped cooking!

First up, this tasty sandwich.  Our local farmers market had these gorgeous white eggplants on sale & I couldn’t resist.

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I’m usually not too versatile with eggplant, typically making baba ganoush or eggplant parm, but I wanted to mix it up a bit.  These sandwiches on Pinterest looked awfully inviting, so I ran with it & was very pleased with the results!

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This also makes a really delicious dip to have with crostini; or you can toss it with a bit of pasta!  It makes a good sized batch, so you can be versatile with it—make a few sandwiches one night, have the dip the next night, etc.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 8-10 sandwiches)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes, about 4 cups total
4 chicken sausages (I think these were sundried tomato & mozzarella)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
(NOTE: if you have a hubby like mine who doesn’t care for olives, you can alternately just add about 1/4 cup of the brine from the jar to get the saltiness & a hint of the flavor, without it tasting too much like olives for them)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
French Bread
Provolone, Swiss or mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat,  then add the eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper (lightly—you can always add more later, but it’s going to cook down quite a bit so you don’t want it to get too salty). Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Add the olives (or olive brine), tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and oregano, and stir well so that the tomato paste coats everything. Season again with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking, and add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture is too thick and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While that’s going, cook your sausages according to their package directions.  Once they’re done, allow to cool for a bit & then slice at an angle to make about 1/2 inch slices.

Allow caponata to cool slightly, but serve warm.  Spoon onto your bread, add the basil, sausage, & cheese.  I didn’t let my cheese get melty enough before taking pics, but if you like, you can place the sandwich open-face beneath the broiler before serving to make sure it’s good & melty.  If you have some fresh mozzarella, that would also go nicely with this sandwich.

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