Sunday, December 4, 2011

roasted eggplant spread sandwich with roasted red peppers, arugula and romano cheese frico

It doesn't take much to make a great sandwich. Take peanut butter and jelly for instance. I learned how to make it when I was in preschool, and pretty much nothing could be easier, but who doesn't love a good peanut butter sandwich? Well, Nathan doesn't, but he can be a weirdo sometimes. But I'm not here to talk about peanut butter sandwiches, but a much fancier affair, with crisp romano cheese frico, marinated red peppers and garlic, fresh arugula and a roasted eggplant spread from Ina Garten. Now that's a sandwich.

Here's a shot of the crispy cheese frico. I saw some guy making these on a Food Network burger making challenge awhile back, and it seemed like an easy and cool idea. Who doesn't like those bits of crispy cheese that ooze out of a grilled cheese or cheeseburger? So good. This is otherwise a pretty soft sandwich, so I was glad to add some textural interest to the sandwich.

That's a close-up of the eggplant, slow roasted with red peppers, onion and garlic and blended into a flavorful spread. Very delicious. This sandwich came together because I had made a whole bunch of it, and didn't know what to do with it. Because I am a genius, I came up with an awesome sandwich to showcase it. No need to thank me, just enjoy.

Roasted Eggplant Spread Sandwich with Marinated Red Peppers, Arugula and Romano Cheese Frico
spread adapted from Ina Garten's recipe for the Food Network
The Roasted Eggplant Spread:

1 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes and toss in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 45 minutes, tossing once during the cooking. Everything should be lightly browned and soft. Let them cool off slightly and blend in a food processor or blender with tomato paste and season with salt and pepper.

The Marinated Roasted Red Peppers:
2 red bell peppers
1 cup of olive oil (or enough to cover the peppers)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced into long strips
2 tbsp minced parsley
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Light two burners on a gas stove and place the peppers on top of the open flame. Cook one pepper over each flame, letting it blacken all over. Once the skin is entirely black on each, put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam for about five minutes.

Peel the peppers; the blackened skin should peel right off. Slice the peppers into strips and discard the seeds. Put the peppers in a glass jar and pour in enough olive oil to cover them. Add the garlic and parsley, as well as lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

The Frico:
2 tbsp grated romano cheese per frico

Set a small frying pan over medium heat, and add a small pat of butter and spread it around the pan as it melts. Sprinkle the grated cheese in a circle and let the cheese melt. After a few minutes the edges will set and it will transform into a golden crust. You can flip it and cook briefly on the second side if you like, but it isn't necessary. It should slide right out of the pan!

The Sandwich:
1 roll
roasted eggplant
marinated red peppers
1 frico

Split open the roll and lightly toast it. Spread the bottom half with the eggplant and top it with some peppers. Lay the frico on the top of the roll, and add the arugula. Put the sandwich together and serve.

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