I’m a sucker for a school book fair (truly, a sucker for books in general…). I will invent excuses to buy more books with the overarching excuse that we are supporting the kids’ school!
Usually my purchases are for the kids, birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends, maybe a holiday/special occasion book for the family. Some years ago I found a book I wanted just for me: Entertaining Vegetarians. Guy laughed, “Well, of course we are entertaining vegetarians!” (meaning that the vegetarians living under our roof are entertaining, just in case you didn’t read his quote with the proper emphasis…)
I love cookbooks. They’re one of the most regular occupants of my library book basket. I pour over them. I study them and learn from them and get very hungry while I page through them.
The Pressed Tuscan Sandwich has me reaching for Entertaining Vegetarians a few times a year, and it’s always a hit. Brown includes this recipe under picnic fair, which would be perfect, but I’ve served it as an appetizer and as a bread-accompaniment to a meal. I made it as part of a Mediterranean dinner menu for a party we hosted last week, and both Guy and I ate leftover slices for breakfast the next day; if you knew Guy and his “Breakfast Nazi” alter-ego – no unapproved breakfast foods! – you’d be convinced already that this has to be good. And it is.
To boot, it’s easy! The filling comes together in a food processor or blender. Slice a loaf of bread down the center, add filling, and set heavy non-breakable items on top to get the filling to soak in to both sides of the bread. After an hour+, slice and serve with extra filling.
Because I expected a minimum of six adults for dinner (and up to twelve) + children who might nibble, I doubled the filling recipe and used one and a half ciabatta loaves; recipe amounts will depend on the size of your bread loaves. One more note: I always look for whole wheat ciabatta, but I don’t often find it. If you’re gonna splurge on white flour, this one’s worth the splurge.
Pressed Tuscan Sandwich
1 ciabatta loaf
1 garlic clove
1 vine tomato, chopped
10 black olives, stoned
2 tsp capers in vinegar, drained
5-6 sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
small handful of fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Slice loaf in half lengthwise. Put remaining ingredients in food processor/blender and pulse. Spread filling on one half of bread and top with other half.
To press: I slide the loaf back into the bakery bag it came in, and then top it with a cutting board topped with something heavy, such as a large soup pot or saute pan + canned beans or peanut butter jars. Let sit for at least an hour, pressing down occasionally to make sure the sandwich is evenly pressed.
Note: press the sandwich within four hours of serving; the filling can be made in advance.
This recipe is my go-to from this cookbook, but every time I pull it out another recipe catches my eye. Yum!