Party Time Veggie Pressed Sammich

sammich-091004-0012Get ready to impress your friends at your next party…this beautiful sammich is bursting with garden veggie flavor and I am pretty sure that no one can resist its charms.

I won’t lie to you though, it takes a little planning. You need to make this sammich the day before you plan to serve it. Aside from that, you can make it as easy or as complicated as you want. And when  it’s party time, all you have to do is unwrap, slice, and serve. No last-minute rushing or fussing in the kitchen. It’s also very portable so you can take it with you if the party is offsite.

sammich-091003-0004The easiest way to make this  work is to use store bought items for the roasted red peppers, tapenade, and bread.

But I am a control freak in the kitchen, so I always make my own tapenade, grill or roast my own red peppers, cook my own beans, and make two loaves of ciabatta from scratch.

So do it however you like, it will still be delicious. I am not going to post recipes for tapenade or ciabatta here, because I trust you can find recipes you like if you want to do everything by hand.sammich-090920-0002

Note that you will have to make the chick pea filling, which was inspired by my girl Kelley of StoneArch Cakery. But it’s really easy and TOTALLY worth it.

This recipe makes enough for two mega huge sammiches, but cut it in half if you don’t need that much. If you have any veggies left over, they will keep in the fridge, and are great to toss into wraps, salads, pizzas, etc.

Party Time Veggie Pressed Sammich

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (which is 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste (this is half of one of those 6oz cans)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 6-8 roasted red peppers
  • Assorted vegetables for grilling or roasting (I usually use 2 small eggplants, 4-5 zucchini, 4-5 yellow squash, 2 large onions)

  • 1 cup tapenade (home made or store bought)
  • 1 8oz. tub Tofutti cream cheese
  • A large bunch of basil
  • Two large flat loaves of bread, such as ciabatta or focaccia

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Method

TO MAKE THE CHICK PEA FILLING

Put the chick peas, peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, tomato paste, and salt and pepper into your food processor. Grab your jar of roasted red peppers and tip about 1/4 cup of the liquid into a measuring cup, then add half of that to the food processor. Process until you get a stiff paste, adding slightly more of the red pepper liquid if needed. (This needs to be a pretty stiff mixture, if it’s too runny it will make the bread damp, and will drip out of your sandwich onto your guests’ laps.) Refrigerate until ready to use. You can make this up to 4 days in advance.

TO MAKE THE VEGETABLES

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Good news: Veggies can also be prepped 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Slice your veggies about 3/8 inch thick (for skinnier squashes and eggplants, I like to slice on the diagonal so that I get bigger planks). In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. Toss your veggies in the marinade and then pull them out and let the extra marinade drain off in a colander or on a cooling rack set over a cookie sheet. (You may need to make a little extra marinade, depending on the amount of veggies you have.)

TIP: To prep your onions for grilling, cut 1/2 inch rounds, and thread them onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes. This will keep your grilled oniony goodness from falling through the grill grates.

If GRILLING: Set the grill on high and give it a scrub with a wire brush. Reduce the heat to meduim, and arrange your veggies in a single layer. Grill about 5 minutes per side, or until you get some nice grill marks and tender veggies (cooking times may vary depending on your grill). Try to avoid charring the crap out of your veggies. You will probably need to do several batches.

If ROASTING: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange veggies in a single layer on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet. Cook 10 minutes, flip the veggies, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until they are tender.

TO ASSEMBLE
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Grab your ciabatta or focaccia, and with your knife blade parallel to the countertop, slice the bread the long way so that you get two large open-faced halves. Hollow out the interior crumb of the bread to make space for the filling. Repeat with the other loaf.

TIP: Save that bread that you pulled out! Toss it in the food processor and make bread crumbs. Store them in a zip top bag in the freezer until you need them.

Take the bottom half of the first loaf of bread, and spread half of the Tofutti cream cheese over it, making sure that there is no bare bread poking through. (This is important to “waterproof” the bottom of your sammich; without this, the bottom gets soggy from the vegetables.) Spread half of the tapenade overtop of the cream cheese. Layer your onions over that, then follow with a layer of eggplant, and a layer of squash and/or zucchini. Grab 3-4 roasted red peppers an spread those out over top.

Take the corresponding top half of the bread and spread the chick pea filling over top. Make a layer of whole basil leaves over this, pressing them into the filling. Carefully take the top layer of the bread, and place it over the bottom half. Wrap the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap. Repeat with the other loaf.

Place both wrapped sandwiches on a large cookie sheet. Place another cookie sheet on top of the sandwiches. Place the cookie sheets in the fridge, and put something heavy on top. Jars of tomato sauce or soup work great for this.

Let the sammich sit for 8-18 hours. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap, and use a bread knife to carefully slice the sandwich into squares.

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Little Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Salad

tomato-091002-0001Tomato season is almost over! We might have one more good week left here on the mid-Atlantic east coast before it’s gone.

This makes me sad. But fortunately for me, it’s been a great season for tomatoes.

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And fortunately for me, I’ve been getting these lovely bags of tomatoes the past few weeks from my CSA. There have been abundant heirlooms, romas, beefsteaks, cherry, and pear tomatoes. They have all been amazing, but it’s these little bitty cherry and pear tomatoes that really inspire me.

They have been showing up in mouth-watering shades of red, yellow, orange, and tiger striped. They are intensely sweet and delicious; I’d have to say that on the Tomato Flavor Scale™ of one to ten, these go to eleven. I love to eat them plain, but mixing them with a few other ingredients out of my CSA delivery really brings up their flavor.

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When I make this little salad, I tend to just leave it out on the counter and snack on on it as the mood strikes. Taking a few minutes to treat your tomatoes this way also makes them great to use for pizza topping or in wraps.

Also, I think it pays to take the time to chop your garlic by hand for this one. The texture and appearance is better than pressing it. It won’t take too much time to do this, I promise…it’s just one clove!

Trust me, your taste buds will thank you…

Tip: If you weren’t already aware, you should store your tomatoes at room temperature whenever possible for best flavor and texture.


Little Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Salad

Ingredients

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  • 1 generous pint cherry, pear, or small roma tomaotes
  • 1 generous handful basil
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil (optional)

Method

Quarter your little tomatoes and put them in a bowl (romas may need to be cut into smaller pieces). Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt to start pulling out some of the juices.

Chop your basil and mince your garlic, and add it to the bowl. Give the whole thing a splash of red wine vinegar, a splash of olive oil (if using), and a grind of pepper. Toss to combine, taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if necessary.

Let the mixture sit in its own juices on the counter for about 30 minutes, if you can wait that long. (I often cannot!)

When ready to use, strain out the juices and set aside. Enjoy your tomatoes at room temperature.

tomato-091002-0001-2Tip: You can also add a few other things to play with the flavors here. I’ve tried this with different combinations of herbs, including parsley and mint. I’ve also tossed in some diced roasted red pepper when I’ve had it on hand, and a little diced jalapeno for some kick.

BONUS TIP: Don’t throw away that liquid once you’ve strained your tomatoes! Everything that has been sitting in the bowl and marinating has given some flavor to that juice. You can use the liquid to replace some or all of the cooking liquid in your pizza dough or a savory bread. Use it to make a light salad dressing. Or add it to your next batch of soup or stock. If you don’t think you’ll use it right away, freeze it and it will be ready when you are.

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