Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Flavor at its Best!

Well, school is out for the summer, and that means more time for cooking for me! Last night, I had the typical dinner debate: a tried and true recipe that takes a little longer, or something new and easy? Since I got a late start yesterday (hey, it's summer), I opted for something a little quicker. But what would it be?

As I was searching Ina's recipes (have I mentioned I'm a fan?) on Food Network, I found myself gravitating to sandwiches. Quick, easy, and light. Perfect for summer. Then I stumbled upon a recipe of hers that I had seen a long time ago, and never got around to making: Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches. Bonus point: it required basil, and I just happened to have some leftover from another recipe that I needed to use before it went bad (I am notorious for having too many herbs and not enough uses.) This was the winner! And let me tell you, this sandwich was phenomenal! Fabulous flavor, and as easy as making a PB&J sandwich (mmmm. That sounds good too. But I digress.)


* 4 large red or yellow bell peppers, preferably Holland
* 2 tablespoons good olive oil
* 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons drained capers

For assembling:

* 1 large ciabatta bread, halved horizontally
* 1 (11-ounce) garlic-and-herb or plain goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet) at room temperature
* 8 to 10 large basil leaves
* 3 thin slices red onion
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the peppers. Stir in the capers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom half of the loaf with the goat cheese. Add a layer of peppers and then a layer of basil leaves. Separate the onions into rings and spread out on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings.

My recipe notes:
  • Since I was running behind (hey, cut me some slack, it's summer) I used a jar of roasted peppers to save time instead of roasting my own. An already easy sandwich was made even easier!
  • I toasted the ciabatta bread for a nice crunch.
  • My store doesn't carry the Montrachet brand, but I did find a log of herb goat cheese, and I really could tell that the herbs in the cheese add a lot to the flavor-I really don't see plain goat cheese working anywhere near as well-but that's just me.

I can't believe how deceptively wonderful this meal was. How can something so easy be so great? I guess that's what Ina's famous for though. We added some simple Parmesan roasted green beans to the meal, and we had a quick, light summer meal. The fact that this sandwich doesn't have meat really makes it a nice choice on a hotter day. A chilled glass of Chardonnay was an extra treat. The flavors in this sandwich really remind me of Ina's Grilled Panzanella Salad-one of my favorite flavor combos of all time. My husband has already declared that this should become a staple in our home. I guess he twisted my arm.

*Eye Candy Alert!*

Update: Here is the short version of the Parmesan Green Beans recipe we use:

We use Tyler Florence's recipe, but you don't really need any quantities. And I love that you could adapt this for any vegetable you want.

1.Preheat oven to 400
2.Place the green beans (or whatever vegetable you choose on a baking sheet)
3. Drizzle with olive oil, salt (not a ton-the Parmesan is salty) and pepper.
4. Grate fresh Parmesan on top (a generous amount so you get a nice crust)
5. Bake for 10 minutes (cheese should be nice and golden, and crispy)
6. Let cool for a few minutes, and then use a spatula to scrape up the green beans and all the crispy cheese. Easy Peasy!

1 comment:

  1. I'm cooking-challenged - can you post your recipe for the parmesan roasted green beans too? Thanks!