Several factors have led to my interest in cooking. Interest was first. I’ve always been drawn to cookbooks and loved to look at the only one we had in the house. Yes, I mention it all the time — that old Betty Crocker Cookbook that I still have. It was the photos. They opened up a world I would have not been privy to with the staples my mother created. It’s where I first wondered what popovers tasted like, what Baked Alaska was, and how those flames could be on that “Peach Jubilee Dessert.”
Noticeably missing was a section with photos of sandwiches. Maybe no one really thought it was necessary. After all, sandwiches were something made with leftovers, or jam and peanutbutter from a jar, right?
Today, a good sandwich constitutes a whole meal as far as I’m concerned, and we do have them for dinner. Although I’ll look at a recipe occasionally if the ingredients are unusual, it’s fun to just figure it all out. I’m not just talking about roast beef and cheddar with a bit o’ mustard, here. I’m talking about knowing which combinations of flavors you like, and that compliment one another to make a really great sandwich. Mmmm…do I have a sandwich for you. Or is it a sarnie? Well, in this case, it must be a sarnie, because it’s my entry into “Show Us Your Sarnie!” being hosted by Marie at A Year From Oak Cottage. What a great idea!
A perfect combination of flavors is roasted peppers, sauteed portobellos, and grilled onions. The sweetness of the peppers, rich caramel of the onions, and earthiness of the mushrooms really works. In fact, the combination is excellent for a pasta dish or a salad as well. But to really get my heart singing, two more important ingredients are necessary….goat cheese, and arugula. You have to try it. But don’t get fussy about quantities, because that’s not how this works. You have to be adventuresome.
Although my sandwich is meatless — yes, and it’s excellent — this combination would work very well with beef or chicken. It just isn’t necessary with these gorgeous mushrooms.
So Cal Sarnie: Roasted Veggies and Goat’s Cheese with Arugula on Ciabatta
Ingredients: Crusty bread such as a whole ciabatta, two very large portobellos, three bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), goat’s cheese, dijon, fresh arugula, sweet white onion, olive oil, salt, pepper.
To begin: roast the peppers. You can do this on the open burner of your stove whether gas or electric. Just lay them on there until they’re black and blistered. Make sure to turn on the fan because their fragrance is quite strong and will hover in your house…not something you want to smell in the middle of the night. Next, place the peppers in a paper bag or closed container and let them sit for at least 15 minutes. Remove them, and with you fingers, remove the blackened skin, the membranes, stem and seeds. DO NOT RINSE OFF THE PEPPERS. Sorry for yelling, but you want to retain the lovely oils and flavor from the roasting. Set aside.
Next: While the peppers are sitting, cut thick slices of onion. Keep the slices together, and place in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat checking occasionally to see how they’re browning. Flip them over after they’ve browned to your liking. Remove them from the pan until you are ready to use them. You can break them up if you wish from the beginning and really cook them down to caramelized rings — quite tasty as well — but it’s your choice. Keeping the rings together provides more of a bite on this particular
sandwich er, um sarnie
Now: Slice a couple of very large portobello mushrooms. Mince some garlic as well. Put a few splashes of olive oil in another skillet (the onions are in the other) and add the garlic when the oil is hot. After a minute, place the mushroom slices in the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on one side to brown, then turn to brown the other side. This takes longer than you would think. You may need to add another spash of olive oil to get the brown you want. But avoid soaking the mushrooms in oil. You don’t want an oily mess.
Okay: After you’ve removed the onions, wipe out the pan (or whip out your still new Panini pan that you got for your birthday) and place the ciabatta sections face down to brown them just a bit. Then spread a bit of dijon on one piece, and softened goat’s cheese on both
Ready? Place several mushroom slices on one piece, topped with roasted peppers, then onions. On the other slice, load the arugula. Carefully slap the two pieces together, then place in the panini pan. Make sure the lid has been sitting in the pan while it’s heating so that it’s hot, too. Place the lid over the sarnie and let it sit for a couple of minutes. If you’re brave, turn it over and let it sit for another minute.
No panini pan? Using a cast iron skillet works just fine. Sit something heavy on the sarnie and then turn it over and do the same thing.
No cast iron skillet? You’re kidding, right? No comment, but, wrap the sarnie in foil and pop the whole thing in a preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes. The arugula will be wilted, but that will be just fine.
- Use fresh mozzarella if you want a more mild tasting cheese that will melt a bit.
- Use any kind of pesto you enjoy and spread that on instead of the dijon.
- Use blue cheese instead of goat’s cheese and skip the peppers, but add tomato and switch the arugula with fresh spinach.
Have fun and enjoy experimenting with my version of a sarnie! Oh, and chop up the leftovers and saute them with some pappardelle the next day. It’s even better.