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Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Try lunch for dinner

Tags: Food
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I absolutely adore Indian summer. Somehow, the still warm days and the still abundant produce that’s evident at the grocery store mean I don’t have to rush headlong into autumn but can still savour the sweet smells of fresh tomatoes, herbs and vegetables, and at least pretend that although schedules are fast becoming furious, I can make delicious, garden fresh dinners.

Sandwiches are the ideal vehicle for the late summer richness of field tomatoes, emerald zucchini and succulent sweet peppers. Sandwiches are also relatively quick, require little preparation and can even be tucked into a napkin and toted along as families drive to newly started soccer matches and the like. I’ve included different bread ideas in each recipe but, of course, choose the bread your family prefers – there’s no shortage of available options.

 

STEAK SANDWICH WITH CARMELIZED ONIONS AND CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

 

Chimichurri, an Argentine condiment, usually has chilies, or at least hot pepper flakes, added to it, for some fire. Since I’ve added a peppery arugula to this sandwich, I’ve omitted the customary heat in the sauce. Feel free to add a pinch if your family likes it hot.

 

Caramelized Onions:

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

5 large onions, stemmed and sliced

1 tbsp. packed light brown sugar

Chimichurri Sauce:

1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves

1 cup packed fresh coriander leaves

1 tbsp.  fresh oregano leaves

4 large cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Steak:

1 lb.  grilling steak

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

pinch each salt and pepper

4 sandwich rolls

2 cups fresh arugula leaves

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the onions are very soft and caramelized. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the chimichurri sauce. Place the parsley, coriander, oregano, garlic and vinegar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal “S” blade. Pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube, for about 1 minute. Transfer to a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush the steak (or steaks) with the oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill on a preheated grill set over medium-high heat, turning once, for 8 to 10 minutes or until medium-rare. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil for 5 minutes. Cutting against the grain, slice the steak into thin slices.

Cut each sandwich roll in half without cutting all the way through. Line each bun with one-quarter of the arugula. Top with 1/4 of the caramelized onions. Evenly divide the meat on top. Slather with chimichurri sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

 

ITALIAN GRILLED CHEESE

 

Nothing could be simpler than this flash-in-a-pan sandwich. The smokiness of the Mozzarella elevates this old favourite to a distinctly new level. The garlic-infused oil perfumes the sandwich, complementing the basil as well as the tomatoes.

 

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

8 slices challah bread

4 oz. smoked or plain Mozzarella, sliced

3 oz. Fontina, thinly sliced

1 large ripe tomato, cut into 8 slices

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

 

In small bowl, mash the garlic and salt together using the back of a spoon, until it is paste-like. Stir in the olive oil. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Place 4 of the challah slices on a work surface. Divide the Mozzarella evenly among the 4 slices. Top each with 2 tomato slices and at least two basil leaves. Divide the Fontina evenly among the sandwiches. Top with remaining challah slices. Brush half of the olive oil mixture over the top bread slice.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Invert the sandwiches into the skillet so that the oil brushed side meets the heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the underside is golden. Brush the tops of each sandwich with the remaining oil mixture. Carefully flip each sandwich over. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the underside is golden and the cheese has melted. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

 

CURRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH WITH GUACAMOLE TOMATO MAYONNAISE

 

Both the grilled chicken breasts and the guacamole mayonnaise can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator, making this an easy to put together fuss-free sandwich. Be sure to bring both the chicken and the mayonnaise to room temperature for best results.

 

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. each cayenne, salt and pepper

Guacamole Mayonnaise:

2 small ripe avocados

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise

1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

2 plain or whole grain large pitas

4 lettuce leaves

 

In a small bowl, mash the avocado until creamy but still a bit chunky. Stir in the mayonnaise, tomatoes, red onion, coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper; set aside.

Place the chicken breasts on a clean cutting board. Cut in half as if to butterfly, but cut all the way through to make two thin pieces. 

In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, curry powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Brush the oil mixture over one side of the chicken breasts. Place the grilled chicken breasts on a preheated grill, oiled side down, over medium-high heat. Grill for 5 minutes. Brush the remaining oil mixture over the top side. Flip the chicken; grill for about 5 more minutes or until no longer pink inside.

Cut each pita in half and open up slightly. Line one side with a lettuce leaf. Place one chicken breast beside the lettuce. Divide the guacamole mayonnaise evenly between the pita halves, spreading it beside the chicken. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

 

 

GRILLED VEGETABLES AND HUMMUS SANDWICH

 

Virtually any kind of prepared hummus will work in this sandwich, but the roasted garlic variety lends an uncompromising oomph and flare. The zucchini and sweet pepper can be roasted stovetop on a grill pan if the weather is inclement. They can also be made early in the morning and just pulled out of the fridge as you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches.

 

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1 large sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and quartered

1 large zucchini, trimmed and sliced thinly lengthwise into at least 8 long slices

1/2 cup prepared roasted garlic hummus

2 cups watercress

1 loaf ciabatta, cut into 4 pieces

 

In a small bowl, stir together the oil, salt and pepper. Brush over one side of the red pepper quarters. Place the red peppers on a preheated grill set over medium-high heat. Grill, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until charred and very soft. Set aside.

Brush one side of each slice of zucchini. Grill, turning once and brushing the other side as you flip, for about 3 minutes per side or until nicely marked and very soft.

Cut each ciabatta quarter in half horizontally. Spread the hummus evenly over 4 halves. Top with a roasted red pepper quarter and two slices of zucchini (or more). Top with one-quarter of the watercress. Place other half of bread on top. Makes 4 sandwiches.

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