Caramelized Peach Caprese Panini, for Edible Boston

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I have some exciting news! I submitted this recipe to Edible Boston’s “Reader’s Recipe” contest. For the Fall 2014 issue, the contest was sandwiches!!! Having just received a George Foreman grill as a present, I had JUST developed this recipe and fallen in love with it. I’ve been itching to share this with you all for weeks, but I crossed my fingers and held out until I heard back from Edible. Now that the issue is out, you can check it out here.
I just love caprese. It’s one of my favorite pizza, sandwich, or salad types. The simplicity, ingenuity, and freshness of the basil-mozzarella-tomato combination is just golden. I decided to give it a little bit more complexity by adding caramelized peaches and prosciutto.
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Let me paint you a picture. I’m walking around the streets of Florence with my architecture classmates. We’re clutching moleskins, museum passes, and holding onto our almost-finished gelato. We stop to browse the leather market. We stop to sketch a fascinating door. We find somewhere with outdoor seating (which isn’t hard to find) and order pizzas on a student’s budget. Someone orders the marghertia; others order a prosciutto pizza. I order the caprese pizza, because what is better or more refreshing than fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil?
This scene has stayed with me long since I graduated from college. When I miss Italy, I try to go back, not via photos, but via food. I made this sandwich to take advantage of the perfect combination caprese brings together. But for this panini, I was in the mood for something saltier, and I absolutely love the way fruit and prosciutto mesh together. So, I caramelize my peaches to bring out its sweetness. I add two slices of paper-thin prosciutto to prevent the bread from getting soggy and for that savory kick. I roast some mixed cherry tomatoes so that with each bite, there will be a burst of flavor. I used homemade challah for this because it is one of my favorite breads and a staple in my kitchen.


I used to dismiss sandwiches as mundane, typical, or lazy. But that was before I stumbled into South End’s Flour Bakery, delirious with hunger and ready to chomp on anything that was presented before me. I ordered a the tomato chutney goat cheese lamb sandwich, which is quite possibly one of the best sandwiches on earth. Tangy, sweet, fresh. After wolfing that sandwich down, my whole perspective on sandwiches changed. They could be so complex. So delicious, for lack of better word. So creative. Then, I started to remember all the other meaningful sandwiches I’ve ever experienced. A Vietnamese banh mi sandwich I had in California. The po boy in New Orleans. The pulled pork from Pappy’s in St. Louis. I was humbled and blown away. All these years I’ve enjoyed sandwiches of all types, but I never really dissected them or paid them too much attention. Well, that’s going to change now. I’m going to revisit and appreciate the sandwich.

RECIPE: Caramelized Peach Caprese Panini
makes 4 sandwiches
1 ripe peach, pitted and sliced to 8 slices
brown sugar
1/2 tbsp butter
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
4 1/4″ slices of fresh mozzarella
olive oil
8 thin slices of prosciutto
a handful of basil, chopped roughly
8 slices challah
1| Cherry Tomatoes: Preheat oven to 375F. Toss cherry tomatoes with some olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.
2| Peach: To caramelize peach, sprinkle brown sugar on both sides of peach slices. Heat up a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter. Gently lay peach slices in skillet. Cook each sides, allowing time for juices to flow and brown sugar to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.
3| Assemble: Lay two challah slices side by side. Place one slice of prosciutto on each slice. Layer peach, mozzarella, and then another peach slice on one challah slice. Sprinkle basil on top. Place 3-4 cherry tomato slices on top. Close by placing second challah slice over the cherry tomatoes. Do this for each sandwich.
4| Make Panini: Preheat your panini press or George Foreman grill. Brush a layer of olive oil on both sides of the challah. Gently place onto grill and close the lid (or press). Cook until bread is browned and grill marks show, about 2-3 minutes.
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