Saturday, August 4, 2007

Pressed Veggie Sandwiches - It's Summer!

A pressed sandwich is a loaf of rustic bread that's split, filled with ingredients, and then wrapped and refrigerated overnight under a weight to flatten the layers and meld the flavors. This recipe makes sandwiches with these vegetables, but the basic concept is infinitely variable, so adjust the ingredients if you like. A mandoline ensures that the vegetables are sliced thinly and evenly. You can use store-bought pesto and jarred roasted red peppers in place of homemade.


Serves 6

* 2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
* 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 red bell pepper (about 7 ounces)
* 1 small eggplant (about 8 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1 zucchini (about 8 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1 yellow summer squash (about 7 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 2 loaves ciabatta (each about 8 by 10 inches), halved horizontally
* 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices


1. Make the pesto: Pulse basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until combined. With machine running, add 1/2 cup oil in a slow, steady stream. Transfer to a small airtight container, and top with remaining oil. Pesto can be refrigerated overnight.
2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 3 to 4 seconds.) Grill bell pepper, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. Place in a bag, close bag, and steam 15 minutes. Peel pepper, and discard skin.
3. Lightly brush both sides of eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill, flipping once, until golden brown and soft, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
4. Pull out most of the doughy center of bread, and reserve for another use (such as breadcrumbs). Brush inside of each loaf with oil. Spread pesto over bottom half of each loaf. Top both loaf bottoms with grilled vegetables and the mozzarella. Sandwich top and bottom of each loaf, and press firmly. Tightly wrap each sandwich in plastic, allowing air to release before sealing. Wrap each in parchment paper, and tie with kitchen string. Place sandwiches in refrigerator, and weigh down with a heavy object (such as a Dutch oven). Refrigerate at least 2 hours (or overnight). Slice, and serve.

(Courtesy of MS LIVING)


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