I have to admit, I had doubts about this recipe. After reading the ingredient list, I wasn’t impressed. Tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mushrooms – I wondered where the flavor was going to come from. Not that what I just mentioned doesn’t have flavor, but really, these things are raw. They couldn’t possibly offer that much flavor.
There’s something special about sandwiches that are warmed in the oven. Something magical happens to them before they emerge. It seems as though whatever ingredients go into the oven meld into whatever’s next to them and taste more than awesome when they come out. I discovered this fact when I tasted this sandwich after I cooked it for a bit.
As I began enjoying it, something else struck me as well. I realized that I hadn’t paid much attention to a few key ingredients as I gave this recipe its first once-over. You know, things like mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomato spread, pesto, and homemade mayo. These things brought the sandwich over the top and I can now proclaim with confidence – it’s awesome. I mean, really awesome. Lots and lots of flavor. And crunchy when you bite into it, to boot.
What we have today is a sandwich recipe that’s brought to us by none other than Paulette Mitchell via her cookbook called Vegetarian Sandwiches. This recipe can take as little time or as much time to prepare as you’d like it to. For instance, if you wanted to make your own sun dried tomato spread, you could, but it would take more time than it would if you purchased some pre-made spread from the store like I did. If you wanted to make your own mayo, you could do that too, but it would take more time than buying the store bought alternative. I decided to make my own and I’m thankful I did. I honestly think that you can’t get the homemade flavor from the store bought stuff. There’s just no way.
So, for me, the entire recipe probably took about forty-five minutes to prepare. I prepped all the vegetables, made the mayo, put everything together and then toasted and roasted the entire sandwich in the oven for around fifteen minutes. The thing is, the sandwich I put together was at least two feet long. I used an entire loaf of French bread, so I’m guessing Laura and I will have leftovers for tomorrow. As least I hope we will. This makes up for the fact that I spent forty five minutes making a sandwich.
Makes: 4 Sandwiches
1/2 Cup Sun Dried Tomato Spread
1/4 Cup Basil Pesto
1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise (See Recipe)
1 Loaf French Bread About 2 Feet Long, Sliced Horizontally
3 Medium Sized Tomatoes, Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Sweet Onion, Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick
1 Cup White Button Mushrooms, Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Trimmed, Cleaned and Sliced into 1/4 Inch Strips
1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
1/2 Cup Black Olives, Sliced
1 Cup Lettuce, Shredded
There are a few things I changed from the original recipe. First, Paulette called for homemade sun dried tomato pesto. I didn’t want to get into that since I was already going to make mayonnaise, so I bought some from the store. It wasn’t exactly tomato pesto though. It was spread. Because if this, I decided to go ahead and add some basil pesto that I had leftover from a previous recipe in the refrigerator. That was a smart move because it added a lot to the sandwich.
Second, instead of purchasing iceberg lettuce and shredding it, like she suggested, I decided to pick some chard from our garden and thinly slice it as a substitute for the lettuce. We’re up to our eyeballs in chard this summer, so I thought this was a smart move as well.
One more thing – Paulette calls for red pepper flakes to be added to this recipe. I left them out because I thought there’d be enough flavor coming from the tomato spread and the basil pesto. I tend to think I was right about this too. This sandwich has tons of flavor, even without the red pepper flakes.
Apply Tomato Spread, Pesto & Mayo
Start off by laying down a large piece of aluminum foil on your workspace. Then, slice the loaf of French bread in half.
Then, apply the sun dried tomato spread to the bottom piece and the basil pesto on top of that. On the top piece, apply the mayo. Make sure everything is well coated.
Stack Up the Filling
Lay down each filling ingredient in this order: tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper, sweet onion, mushrooms, green bell pepper, mozzarella cheese, olives and lettuce.
When you’re finished adding the filling, place the empty half of the loaf on top and press down firmly.
Warm Oven & Toast
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. When warm, place the entire sandwich, with aluminum foil, inside on the top rack. Keep the foil flat, meaning, don’t wrap the sandwich up in it. What you’re going for here is a toasted, crunchy exterior, while still heating and melting the cheese on the interior. To make life easier, you may want to place the foil and sandwich on a large baking sheet and then in the oven.
Keep the sandwich in the oven for about 10 minutes or until you see the top of the bread begin to brown ever so slightly. When that happens, remove the sandwich from the oven.
Slice & Serve
After letting everything cool for a few minutes, you can slice the bread into as many smaller sandwiches as you’d like. Plate and enjoy.
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