Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Sandwiches

sandwich

What makes for a great sandwich?

Is it the bread?

The meats?

The toppings, e.g. lettuce, tomato, sprouts, etc.?

The spread, e.g. mayo, mustard, dressing?

Well, of course it’s probably a combination of all (and probably some additional) factors.

But, the question is – What’s the most important thing to making a sandwich great?

For me – it is the quality of the bread – what is it for you?

sandwich 5

Mortadella, Cheese and Basil Panini

Mortadella is a large Italian sausage or cold cut made of finely ground, heat-cured pork sausage, which incorporates small cubes of pork fat. Mortadella is a staple product of Bologna, Italy.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf ciabatta, cut in half horizontally
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 8 ounces sliced mortadella 
  • 2 hot cherry peppers, sliced
  • 1 large plum tomato, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Brush the cut side of the bottom bread half with mustard; brush the cut side of the top half with vinegar. Top the bottom half with mozzarella, basil, mortadella, peppers and tomato. Top with remaining bread half.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add the sandwich to the pan; top with another heavy skillet. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Cut sandwich into 6 wedges. If the sandwich does not fit in your pan, cut it in half and cook in two batches.

sandwich 2

Family Style Hearty Steak Sandwich

6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups seeded and diced fresh plum tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons pitted, chopped kalamata olives
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank or sirloin steak
  • 1 (1-pound) Italian round bread loaf (boule) 
  • 4 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 2 ounces arugula

Directions

Heat an outdoor gas grill.

Combine tomatoes, olives, basil, red onion, vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl.

Place steaks on the grill over medium heat. Grill to desired temperature, turning once. Place on cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

Slice bread horizontally. Grill, cut side down, until crisp and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place cheese on the bottom half of the bread. Top with tomato mixture, steak and arugula. Top with remaining bread. Slice into wedges.

sandwich 1

Vegan Muffuletta

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white wine or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 (8-inch) Italian round bread loaf, halved horizontally
  • 1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1/3 cup sliced marinated artichoke hearts
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 12 basil leaves

Directions

Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard the black gills from each mushroom. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook just until it begins to turn light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Arrange mushrooms in the skillet in a single layer, then add wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning the mushrooms once, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes total. Set aside off of the heat to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine black and green olives, parsley, oregano, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and press the mixture with the back of a spoon until it’s roughly mashed; set aside.

Using your fingers, remove some of the bread from the inside of both halves of the bread loaf, making sure to keep a 1-inch border around the edge. (This will help to make room for the filling. Save the bread that you remove for another use, such as bread crumbs or croutons.)

Layer both halves of bread with olive mixture then arrange peppers, artichoke hearts, pine nuts and basil on the bottom half. Top with the cooked mushrooms, spreading them out to cover the entire width of the bread. Assemble the top and bottom halves of the loaf to form a sandwich.

Serve muffuletta right away or wrap it very tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, weighted down with a heavy object like a cast iron skillet filled with a few heavy canned goods. Cut into wedges before serving.

sandwich 3

Mediterranean Tilapia Sandwiches

Za’atar is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.

Ingredients

Fish:

  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Tzatziki:

  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Sandwich ingredients:

  • 4 Mediterranean wheat pitas or flatbread (such as Toufayan), heated
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

Directions

Preheat a broiler.

To prepare fish:

Brush fish with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar , 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with olive oil cooking spray. Broil 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

To prepare Tzatziki:

Combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth.

To prepare sandwiches:

Spread 2 tablespoons Tzatziki sauce in the center of each pita. Divide fish evenly among the pitas. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons onion, 2 tomato slices and about 6 cucumber slices; fold pita or flatbread in half.

sandwich 4
Grilled Chicken, Tomato and Onion Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pitted mixed olives (1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • 1 Vidalia onion (or any sweet onion), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 crusty Italian rolls, such as ciabatta
  • Salt
  • 1 3/4 pounds thin chicken cutlets

Directions

Light an outdoor grill.

In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper.

Brush the tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with olive oil. Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

Brush the chicken cutlets with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them over high heat, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut the chicken cutlets to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve.

About these ads

The perfect sandwich is a healthy sandwich that tastes good and makes you full longer. Sandwiches are one of the most popular midday choices of on-the-go Americans. They’re quick, delicious and, if properly portioned, an option for losing weight. If you aren’t careful, though, a few high fat ingredients can add hundreds of extra calories. So before you make that sandwich, make sure you know what hidden calories are lurking between those bread slices. If you make smart choices regarding the basic elements of a sandwich, you’ll be building healthier sandwiches in no time. 

1. Select healthy bread.

Consider:

  • High-fiber whole wheat bread.
  • High protein bread.
  • Wraps and pita bread (they are thin and have fewer calories). Whole wheat versions are even better.
  • Reduced calorie bread.
  • Multigrain bread.

2. Find high-quality proteins.

Most (although not all) sandwiches benefit from tasty, high-quality protein. What is available and healthy to you may vary by region or supermarket. Keep in mind portion control–a serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of playing cards.

Consider the choices:

  • Classic deli meats: Turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef, corned beef and others without nitrates.
  • Tip: Check the sodium in prepackaged and even deli-fresh meats; most products run high. Cut the sodium by slicing meat you have roasted at home or by asking specifically for meats lower in sodium.
  • Vegetarian spreads: Hummus, peanut butter, cashew butter, tahini, vegetarian patties
  • Salads: Tuna fish salad, seafood salad, chicken salad.

3. Cheese. Although cheese can add a good deal of fat, it also contains a good deal of calcium.

Consider:

  • Harder cheeses, such as Swiss and Cheddar that usually have less fat.
  • Softer cheeses (like Blue cheese) may have more fat, but if spread thinly, can add overall less fat than slices of hard cheese.
  • You can even use low-fat cheese in a sandwich.

4. Dressing. Sandwiches usually taste best with a little condiment added–but it is optional.

Consider:

  • Mustard, salad dressings, salsa and lowfat mayonnaise all add little calories and lots of flavor.
  • Avoid high-fat salad dressings, and regular mayonnaise in a sandwich.

5. Vegetables. A sandwich is a great way to slip in a lot of vegetables into a meal. Make sure they are fresh and crisp.

Consider:

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Cucumbers or pickles
  • Onions: sweet or red
  • Peppers: sweet or hot
  • Mushrooms
  • Lettuce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Apples (especially good with ham)
  • Sauerkraut (with corned beef is a classic Reuben Sandwich)
  • Herbs (Basil tastes terrific in a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich)

Consider heating or toasting:

Heating or toasting a sandwich adds no calories and can greatly enhance the taste. Add lettuce after heating.

Consider sides:

Sandwiches are even healthier with classic pairings like carrot and celery sticks, a bowl of healthy soup or a side salad.

Experiment:

A sandwich is a marvelous canvas to work with and while there are classic pairings (peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on rye, grilled cheese, BLT, etc.) you can come up with  a new  favorites.

Here are a few ideas to start you off.

Turkey Reuben

4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups packaged shredded cabbage with carrot (supermarket coleslaw mix)
  • 2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons Thousand Island salad dressing
  • 8 1/2 inch thick slices rye bread
  • 8 ounces sliced, cooked low sodium turkey breast
  • 4 slices provolone cheese (4 ounces) (reduced fat works just fine in this sandwich)
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • Pickle spears

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine coleslaw mix and Italian salad dressing; set aside.

Spread Thousand Island salad dressing on one side of each bread slice.

Place four of the bread slices, dressing sides up, on a work surface; top with turkey, cheese, tomato and coleslaw mixture.

Top with remaining bread slices, dressing sides down.

Preheat a large skillet sparayed with nonfat cooking spray over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook sandwiches, half at a time, for 4 to 6 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, turning once. If desired, serve with pickle spears.

Oven Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwiches 

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Green Tomatoes & Garnish

  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 large green tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 hamburger buns

Remoulade Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 sweet gherkins, chopped, or 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped

Directions:

To cook tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place a wire rack coated with cooking spray in a parchment paper-lined baking pan.

Whisk together buttermilk and egg white in a medium bowl.

Mix together cornmeal, salt, paprika and cayenne in a shallow dish.

Dip the tomato slices into the buttermilk mixture, then transfer to the cornmeal mixture. Gently turn each slice in the cornmeal mixture to coat.

Transfer the slices to the wire rack on the baking sheet. Lightly coat tomatoes on each side with cooking spray.

Bake the tomatoes in the hot oven until both sides are well browned, 18 to 20 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes.

To make remoulade sauce:

While the tomatoes are in the oven, combine mayonnaise, sour cream (or yogurt), horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, scallions, gherkins (or pickle relish) and capers in a small bowl.

To assemble sandwiches:

Place lettuce on the bottom halves of the buns. Top with tomato slices, remoulade sauce and bacon; cover with bun tops.

 

Tuna Steak Sandwiches

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tuna fillets, each 4 ounces
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Caesar dressing, recipe below
  • 2 whole-grain onion buns
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 2 slices tomato

Directions:

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.

Sprinkle the tuna fillets with pepper. Place the fillets on the grill rack or broiler pan. Brush the tuna with 2 tablespoons of the Caesar dressing while cooking.

Grill or broil until the fish is opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, about 8 minutes. Just before taking the tuna off the grill, place buns on the grill or broiler pan to toast.

Place the tuna steaks on the buns. Top with lettuce and tomato. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing. Serve immediately.

Caesar Salad Dressing

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Place garlic and salt in a medium bowl and mash with the back of a spoon to form a paste.

Add lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, anchovy paste (if using), and pepper; whisk to combine.

Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Add cheese and whisk to combine.

The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Egg-Vegetable Salad Wraps

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow summer squash or zucchini
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh tarragon or basil or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon or basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 leaf lettuce leaves
  • 6 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

Directions:

In a large bowl combine eggs, cucumber, squash, carrot and red onion.

For dressing:

in a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, milk, tarragon or basil, salt and paprika.

Pour the dressing over egg mixture and toss gently to coat.

For each sandwich:

Place a lettuce leaf on a tortilla. Place 3 or 4 tomato slices on top of the lettuce, slightly off center. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture on top of the tomato slices. Roll up tortilla.

If necessary, secure with toothpicks. Cut the tortilla rolls in half crosswise. 

Mediterranean Chicken Panini

4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • Olive oil nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 recipe Tomato-Pepper Spread, below
  • 2 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces total)
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread or multigrain ciabatta rolls, split
  • 1 small zucchini

Directions:

Lightly coat an unheated panini griddle, covered indoor electric grill or large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat or heat according to manufacturer’s directions.

Add chicken. If using griddle or grill, close lid and grill for 6 to 7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. (If using a skillet, cook chicken for 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once.)

Cool chicken slightly; split each chicken piece in half horizontally and cut crosswise into 2-inch-wide slices.

Spread the Tomato-Pepper Spread on cut sides of the bread. Place chicken on bottom half of the bread.

Using a vegetable peeler, cut very thin lengthwise strips from the zucchini. Place zucchini strips on top of the chicken. Place bread tops on top of the zucchini, tomato pepper spread side down. Press down lightly. Lightly coat the top and bottom of each sandwich with nonstick cooking spray.

Place sandwiches on griddle, grill or skillet, adding in batches if necessary.

If using griddle or grill, close lid and grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until bread is toasted. If using skillet, place a heavy saucepan or skillet on top of sandwiches. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bottoms are toasted.

Carefully remove saucepan or top skillet it may be hot. Turn sandwiches; top again with the saucepan or skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until bread is toasted.

Tomato-Pepper Spread

Yield: 1/3 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/3 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

In a small bowl combine sundried tomatoes and the boiling water. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Transfer undrained tomato mixture to a small food processor (if you have a larger food processor you will need to stop and scrape down sides occasionally).

Add roasted red sweet peppers, balsamic vinegar, oregano, garlic and black pepper. Cover and process until smooth.

 

Grilled Vegetable Pitas

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Dash salt
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow or red sweet pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 large whole wheat pita bread round, halved crosswise
  • 8 fresh spinach leaves
  • 8 small fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

Directions:

If present, remove and discard mushroom stem. If desired, remove mushroom gills. In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently brush half of the oil mixture over mushroom and sweet pepper.

Place mushroom and pepper on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly charred and tender, turning frequently.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining oil mixture and the tomato; toss gently to coat. Cut grilled mushroom and pepper into bite-size strips. Add mushroom and pepper strips to tomato mixture; toss gently to combine.

Open pita halves to create pockets. Line pita pockets with spinach and basil leaves. Fill pita pockets with grilled vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Grilled Steak Sandwich

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8- to 10-ounce) lean sirloin steak or 8 to 10 ounces leftover steak
  • 1 baguette, cut into 4 (5-inch) pieces
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 cups arugula or lettuce

Directions:

Preheat the grill. Lightly oil the steak and grill it for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

While steak is resting, cut baguette in half horizontally.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and blue cheese.

Spread half the bread with the mayonnaise mixture; top with sliced steak and arugula. Top with remaining baguette half and divide into fourths.

 


You’re hungry, you just arrived home and you don’t have much food in the house. You can’t be bothered to cook and you want something that you can eat immediately. You need something more substantial than a yogurt or a mango, so what do you reach for? No, not the cereal, you need one of life’s most celebrated foodstuffs – the sandwich. But what makes a good sandwich?

Well, what is it?

Is it the bread?

The meats?

The toppings, e.g. lettuce, tomato, sprouts, etc.?

The spread, e.g. mayo, mustard,  dressing?

Well, of course it’s probably a combination of all and probably some additional factors.

But, the question I ask you is, ” what’s the most important thing to making a sandwich great?”

Good ingredients (not necessarily specific ones either) which go together, moist spread(s) whether mayo or mustard or tomato based, a very good bread or roll but not as thick as the often illustrated sandwiches in food magazines. You must be able to get your mouth around it with ease and not make a mess in the process.

According to popular legend, the sandwich was invented by John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who, while gambling, told his butler to put some meat between two slices of bread so he could eat without interrupting the game and getting grease on the cards. Although the tale is almost certainly questionable because the first sandwich was probably made the day after bread was invented, but the earl did lend his name to this popular food.

At its simplest, a sandwich is two slices of bread enclosing a filling. It also is often a perfectly balanced meal, consisting of protein, vegetable, carbohydrate, often dairy and even fruit. My definition is somewhat broader: A sandwich is a filling enclosed in bread that can be eaten by hand. That definition leaves out such things as open-faced roast beef or turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy that must be eaten with a knife and fork.

My definition includes such things as wraps, tacos, Cornish pasties, empanadas and stuffed pitas — all of which can be held in one hand while playing cards.  So what makes a good sandwich for you?

Sandwich Ideas

Here is an international festival of quick-and-easy, absolutely delicious sandwich ideas that are a snap to make, travel well, and deliver satisfaction on outings of all kinds.

Recipes combine fresh seasonal vegetables and other unique ingredients—including leftovers—to make tasty and versatile treats great for lunchboxes, long hikes, or elegant romantic getaways for two!

Use these ideas as jumping-off places for your own creativity. And keep sandwiches in mind when you cook: Leftovers from the grill or the frying pan make great sandwiches the next day.

Peasant Loaf

Cut crusty bread or baguette in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil and fill with thin slices of Gruyere cheese, ham, a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves, mesclun salad greens, salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

Crunchy  Garden Rolls

Slice tender rolls in half, spread with light mayonnaise and fill with thinly-sliced radishes, thinly-sliced English cucumber, chopped scallions, watercress, and fresh or dried dill.

Hearty Tuscan Grill

Fill wholegrain bread or rolls with leftover grilled vegetables—bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini or summer squash, tomatoes, onions. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Mediterranean Bagels

Spread halved bagels with light cream cheese and hummus, thinly-sliced cucumbers, chopped lettuce and tomato, and toasted sesame seeds.

Red Pepper & Spinach Wrap

This makes a delicious, quick and easy lunch that can be made ahead of time.

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese, plain
  • 1 10″ whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 roasted red pepper, jarred
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, fresh
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/6 avocado, sliced

Directions:

Spread cream cheese evenly over tortilla. Layer spinach leaves over cream cheese.

Chop red pepper and fresh mushrooms. Layer on top of spinach.

Add scallion and avocado. Roll, and wrap in foil for easy packing.

Italian Tuna Melts

Servings: 4

The tuna melt is a decidedly American sandwich with an Italian twist.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Two 6-ounce cans Italian tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
  • 9 ounces marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ciabatta rolls or 1 long ciabatta loaf, split lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 pound Robiola cheese or Mozzarella, sliced

Directions:

Preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk the 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard until combined. Add the flaked tuna, chopped artichokes, chopped olives, sliced red onion and shredded basil and toss gently. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Using a pastry brush, brush the cut sides of the ciabatta lightly with olive oil and broil cut side up on a baking sheet for 2 minutes, until the ciabatta is golden and lightly toasted; rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Rub the garlic clove over the toasted ciabatta and mound the tuna salad on top. Cover with the sliced Robiola cheese and broil until the cheese is just melted, about 1 minute. Serve the tuna melts at once.

Tomatoes on Toast

If you don’t have Boursin cheese, you can use light cream cheese with some chopped fresh herbs mixed in. You will find the Boursin easiest to spread if it has been sitting at room temp for 10 minutes or so.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 slices of Italian loaf bread
  • Light Herbed Boursin cheese, about 2 tablespoons per slice of bread
  • 1 medium to large vine-ripened tomato
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1 Toast the bread.

2 While the bread is toasting, slice the tomato into 1/4-inch slices.

3 Once the bread is lightly toasted, spread one side with Boursin cheese. Top with a couple slices of tomato, overlapping if necessary. Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a snack.

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pockets

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into small florets
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces provolone, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds pizza dough, at room temperature
  • All-purpose flour, for the work surface
  • Cut-up vegetables and ranch dressing, for serving

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 425° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the sausage, broccoli, bell pepper, and garlic with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Roast, tossing once, until the broccoli is tender, 25 to 30 minutes; let cool. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the provolone, and toss to combine.

2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch each piece into a 7-inch circle. Dividing evenly, spoon the broccoli mixture onto one side of each round (about ½ cup each), leaving a ½-inch border. Dot the border with water, fold the dough over to form a semicircle, and press firmly to seal.

3. Place the pockets on a parchment-lined large baking sheet and cut several slits in each. Bake the pockets until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with the vegetables and ranch dressing.

4. The unbaked pockets can be frozen for up to 3 months. First freeze them on the baking sheet until firm, then transfer to freezer bags. To cook, bake the pockets from frozen on parchment-lined baking sheets at 425° F until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Tip

If freezing the pockets to cook at a later date, write the oven temperature and cooking time on the outside of the bag in permanent marker for easy reference.

Turkey & Tomato Panini

Some pickles and sweet potato oven fries can round out this meal. Thinly sliced roast beef can be substituted for the turkey in this Panini.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced reduced-sodium deli turkey
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the mixture on each slice of bread. Divide turkey and tomato slices among 4 slices of bread; top with the remaining bread.

Heat a panini maker and cook sandwiches according to manufacturer’s directions.

If you do not have a panini maker then have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down with the cans.

 Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini.


The art of tailgating can be described as a delicate balance between sports and eating. It’s a place where fans can not only paint their faces, but enjoy a beer with a fellow supporter. It’s a medium where sports can be enjoyed pre-game and post-game.

There is something about the combination of friends, family, appetizers and beverages that excites fans like few other things can. Grilling burgers that are branded with your team’s logo, competing to see whose flag can fly the highest, and dressing children in sports paraphernalia – all are as American as the hot dogs and apple pies that are consumed while doing them. And while this time-honored tradition dates back to some of the earliest sporting events, tailgating has arguably grown more popular than the events with which they are associated.

How did tailgating begin?

One of the first tailgating events was first documented during the Civil War, although participants, in all likelihood, were not sharing recipes or playing a friendly game of horseshoes. The event took place in 1861 at the Battle of Bull Run. At the battle’s start, civilians from the Union side arrived with baskets of food and shouting, “Go Big Blue!” Their efforts were a form of support and encouragement for their side to win the commencing battle.

Although this event was a far cry from tailgates of today, this is one of the first historical events of passersby cheering on an event. This day also is important in that it documents food being used to celebrate a specific event.

Another event that would help shape the history of tailgating happened just five years after the Battle of Bull Run, in 1866 when Texas rancher, Charles Goodnight, transformed a U.S. army wagon into a portable feed wagon. Goodnight saw the need for cowboys to eat regardless of location, and invented his contraption – the chuck wagon – to help mobilize hearty meals. The chuck wagon, named after a lower-priced cut of beef called “chuck,” helped transform the face of the ranching industry. Goodnight’s portable cooking design was efficient, and more importantly, on wheels. Goodnight’s chuckwagon was an early model of many tailgating setups that are still used in present times.

Up to this point, however, each form of early tailgating had yet to be performed at an actual sporting event. The act of pre-game celebration would not be introduced to competitive sports until 1869, when the earliest signs of tailgating at a sporting event took place at the inaugural intercollegiate football game between Princeton and Rutgers. However, what arguably had the biggest effect on tailgating at this game, was a group of Rutgers fans and players, who wore scarlet-colored scarves (converted into turbans), in order to be separate from the other fans. Their school colors were a show of support, and defined them as belonging to a certain team. Back then, spectators traveled to the game by horse-drawn carriages, and spent the time prior to kick off grilling sausages and burgers at the “tail end” of the horse.

Still others claim that the cradle of tailgating is Green Bay, Wisconsin, and point to the year 1919, when the three-time Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers were first formed. Wisconsin farmers would back their pickup trucks around the edge of the open football field, open their tailgates to sit on and graze from a picnic basket of food as they watched “The Pack” play.

Freelance writer Chris Warner, who wrote A Tailgater’s Guide To SEC Football, produced a 2003 documentary on tailgating for The History Channel cable network’s Modern Marvels series. In it, Warner suggests any of the three origins could be considered valid, but that “While modern tailgating has only recently [within the last 30 years] become popular, the practice of enjoying both food and football has post-Civil War, 19th century roots.”

At the dawn of the Automotive Age, the word “tailgate” referred specifically to the hinged back section of a vehicle that could be removed or let up or down for the ease in loading or unloading cargo. Although its invention was a convenience for the driver and passengers, it became the foundation for the modern tailgating experience  seen at concerts and sporting events.

Ever since that first competitive collegiate game, the traditional form of tailgating has been practiced at sporting events everywhere. Ever since opposing players have faced one another, fans have worn the colors of their teams. And from the first meeting of schools, onlookers have cheered throughout the game for their teams.

Nowadays, food and beverages have become a staple before the big game. There are barbecues before baseball events, beers shared hours before kickoff, and cold cuts spread out at the start of a racing event. Tailgating is a large part of American culture, and is enjoyed today more than ever.

To date, tailgating has changed as much as the game of football itself. Where turbans were once worn to distinguish which team you were rooting for, caps, jerseys, themed T-shirts, and body paint now are the norm. And where food was once transported in a horse-drawn wooden wagon, grills and coolers now are transported with ease, allowing tailgaters to consume the best of foods and beverages on the road. Despite the changes in the evolution of tailgating, one thing has endured: the fans’ spirit.

Some Healthy Recipes For Your Next Tailgate Party

 

Zesty Baked Chicken Wings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 16 chicken wings, each halved at joint and with tip removed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs

Dip:

  • 1 cup fat-free yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire

Directions:

1. Combine first 8 ingredients (through lemon zest) in a large bowl, and whisk until combined. Pour over wings, transfer to a zip-top plastic bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425°.

3. Line a baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray; set aside.

4. Mix together Parmesan, parsley, and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Coat wings in breadcrumb mixture. Place on prepared pan.

5. Bake on lowest oven rack for 20 minutes, then turn and cook for 10 more minutes.

6. While wings are baking, combine dip ingredients in a small bowl. Serve the wings with the dip.

Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab

6 servings

 Ingredients

  • 3 long English cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup crab meat, excess water removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon green onion, minced plus extra for garnish
  • Paprika

 Directions:

Peel the cucumbers and cut into 2 inch slices. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out 3/4ths of the inside, being careful not to scoop through the bottom. You want to leave the walls and a thick portion of the bottom intact.

In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream and cream cheese until well combined. Add in remaining ingredients and stir until just combined. Fill each cucumber cup with the crab mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle paprika and minced green onion on each cucumber cup for garnish.

Pigs-in-a-Blanket

(Makes 42 pigs)

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated quick light crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 tablespoons grainy, Dijon, or honey mustard
  • 1 package Applegate cocktail franks (contains 42 franks)
  • Ketchup, mustard, or prepared horseradish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working with one package of rolls at a time, separate dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into thirds and spread with mustard. Place one cocktail frank on widest end of triangle and roll up tightly. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, point side down. Repeat with remaining dough and franks. You will have a little extra crescent roll dough left over.

2. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with ketchup, mustard, or prepared horseradish.

Make-ahead tip: Prepare pigs-in-a-blanket and freeze for up to a week. To reheat: place pigs, thawed, on cookie sheet, covered loosely with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Eggplant Bruschetta

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants, peeled
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for brushing on eggplant slices, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Toasted baguette slices.

Directions:

Slice eggplant in thin circles, brush lightly with olive oil, salt them lightly, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Bake them on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool. Finely dice and combine with remaining ingredients.

Spread on toasted baguette slices.

Italian Sausage Chili                                                      

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian Sausage links, any flavor
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • Asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

1. Grill the Italian sausages and cut into half moon slices. Set aside. In a soup kettle, saute the onion, celery, sweet peppers and garlic in oil until tender. Add sausage and the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until flavors are blended.

2. Sprinkle chili with grated Asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian Chili

Serves 6                                                                                                              

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

Directions:

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. Add chili powder, oregano, season with salt and pepper, and cook until spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add zucchini and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste is deep brick red, 3 minutes. Stir in black beans, pinto beans, and both cans diced tomatoes. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until zucchini is tender and liquid reduces slightly, 20 minutes.

Mini Muffulettas

Tailgate Tip: Prepare sandwiches the day before the game.

Place in zip-top plastic freezer bags, and refrigerate overnight.

12 servings                                              

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16-oz.) jars mixed pickled vegetables (Mezzetta Italian Mix Giardiniera)
  • 3/4 cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil-and-vinegar Italian dressing
  • 12 small whole wheat rolls, cut in half
  • 6 Swiss cheese slices, cut in half
  • 12 thin Applegate Farms deli ham slices
  • 12 Applegate Farms Genoa salami slices
  • 6 provolone cheese slices, cut in half

Directions:

1. Pulse pickled vegetables in food processor 8 to 10 times or until finely chopped. Stir in olives and dressing.

2. Spread 1 heaping tablespoonful pickled vegetable mixture over cut side of each roll bottom. Top each with 1 Swiss cheese slice half, 1 ham slice, 1 salami slice, 1 provolone cheese slice half, and roll tops. Cover with plastic wrap. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Tomato and Provolone Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 slices whole-grain country bread
  • Olive oil for grilling bread
  • 4 slices provolone cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/2 inch thick

Directions:                                                                                                                                                                                       

Preheat grill to medium on one side of the grill.

Mash garlic on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife or a spoon until a paste forms. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with mayonnaise, basil, lemon juice, pepper and salt.

Brush bread slices lightly with olive oil and place on the hot side of the grill. Grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the bread over onto the cool side of the grill and divide cheese among 4 of the pieces. Continue grilling with the cover down until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Assemble sandwiches with tomato and the garlic-herb mayonnaise. Top with the melted cheese bread.

 

 


Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

Created on the South Side of Chicago in the Italian neighborhoods around the now defunct Stockyards, the classic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich is a unique, drippy, messy variation on the French Dip Sandwich. It is available in hundreds of places around the city but rarely found outside of Chicago. The exact origin is unknown, but the sandwich was probably created by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s as they rose from poverty and were able to afford beef for roasting.

No one knows for sure who invented the sandwich, but the recipe was popularized by Pasquale Scala, a South Side butcher and sausage maker. During the Depression food was scarce and Scala’s thinly sliced roast beef on a bun with gravy and fried peppers took off. Today, beef sandwiches are a staple at Italian weddings, funerals, parties, political fundraisers and luncheons and Scala’s Original still supplies hundreds of restaurants and Italian Beef Stands with the raw ingredients.

Italian Beef is made by slowly roasting lean beef in a pan filled with seasoned beef-based stock. Some folks call it gravy, but in most Chicago Italian households gravy is a term reserved for tomato sauces. Others call it au jus or “juice” for short. Then it is sliced paper-thin, soaked in the juice for a few minutes and layered generously, dripping wet, onto sections of Italian bread loaves, sliced lengthwise. According to Allen Kelson, former restaurant critic for Chicago Magazine and now a restaurant consultant, it is important that the bread has “wet strength”. The meat is topped with sautéed green bell pepper slices, Pepperoncini and Giardiniera, which is usually a spicy hot blend of chopped Serrano peppers, carrots, cauliflower florets, celery, olives, herbs, salt & pepper, packed in oil and vinegar. Finally juice is spooned over the toppings, making the bread wet and chewy.

12 servings

Ingredients:

Pot Roast:

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Sprigs fresh thyme

Pepper Topping:

  • 1  medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1  medium green pepper, julienned
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 16  ounces sliced or whole pepperoncinis                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • 2  (1-pound) loaves hearty Italian bread, cut into halves lengthwise

Directions:

For the Pot Roast:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position of the oven. Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke.

Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished. Add in the stock and thyme and bring to a simmer. Place the roast back into the pot with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven.

Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the juices in the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks, add to bowl with pan juices and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the Peppers:
Increase the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Toss the pepper strips with the oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich:  Spoon some juice directly onto the bread. Get it very wet. Then layer the beef generously and spoon on more juice. Top it with bell pepper,  Giardiniera and Pepperoncini.

Italian Subs – New York Restaurant Style

“This is a classic Italian sub sandwich with three kinds of meat and provolone cheese. The kind you get in a mom and pop pizza restaurant.

8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
2 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced very thin
1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound sliced hot Capacola
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced Prosciutto
1/2 pound sliced Provolone Cheese
4 submarine rolls, split
1 cup Pepperoncini, sliced to fit sandwich


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes and oregano. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Spread the submarine rolls open, and layer the Capacola, Salami, Prosciutto, and Provolone Cheese evenly on each roll. Top with some of the salad, and as many Pepperoncini pepper slices as desired. Close the rolls and serve.

Pepper and Egg Sandwich

Since the 1950′s, and possibly earlier, the “pepper ‘n egg” sandwich has been a popular lunch for Italian American families. When I was a child, my mother would pack a pepper and egg sandwich for my school lunch box. I can remember some of my school mates, saying, “EWW – what is that….” I just shrugged because it tasted yummy. As an adult, I make pepper and egg sandwiches regularly. I introduced them to my Irish husband long ago and it is still one of his favorite sandwiches.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf Italian bread or rolls

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat then add olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the onion and peppers, regulating the heat so the onions don’t burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Stir to combine with the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set.
Slice the bread lengthwise without cutting all the way through. When the eggs are done, gently slide them onto the bread to make a sandwich and cut the loaf into four portions.

Open-Face Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Four large 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian peasant bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 8 slices 1 inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 large basil leaves, torn
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Light a grill. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Top the eggplant with the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese just begins to melt, 1-2 minutes. Transfer 2 eggplant slices onto each slice of bread, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

The muffufletta sandwich’s nickname is simply “muff.” These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is considered as much a signature sandwich of New Orleans as the Po’ Boy Sandwich. It is an Italian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese and Italian ham. They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature. Imagine a sandwich that is almost as round as a Frisbee and so wide that it is hard to bite into.
Ingredients:
  • 1 round loaf Italian bread, 10-inches in diameter
  • Olive Salad (see recipe below)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces salami, thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Italian ham (Proscuitto), thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Directions:
Make Olive Salad.
Cut bread in half crosswise and scoop out about half of the soft dough from top and bottom pieces (this is to provide more room for the sandwich ingredients). Brush the inside bottom of loaf with olive oil or juice from the Olive Salad marinade.
Layer salami, Italian ham and Provolone cheese on the bottom piece.
Top with as much Olive Salad as will fit without spilling out. Add top of loaf and press down slightly. Slice in quarters or sixths and serve at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the appetite.

Olive Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives 
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimiento 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 anchovy fillet, mashed 
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh oregano leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and then allow the flavors to mingle for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Italian Meatball Sub

Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related the following information:
“My grandfather came to this country in 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti’s Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crusty roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a  layer of cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).”
Angela continued,”My mother often told me about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine.” She remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time. She related that “when grandfather went to see the Holland I in 1927, the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he said, ‘It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.’ From that day on, he called his sandwich the ‘submarine.’ People came from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs.”

Ooey-Gooey Meatball Submarine Sandwich. Photo by Sarah_Jayne

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly toast rolls.
  2. Sprinkle both cheeses in the bottom of the rolls, holding back about 2 tablespoons for the top of the rolls.
  3. Place the meatballs down the centre of the roll and ladle hot Marinara sauce on top.
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoonful of reserved shredded cheese and the Parmesan cheese over top. Sprinkle some dried oregano and basil the over top.
  5. Put meatball sub in an oven-safe dish and return to oven for a couple of minutes to heat through and melt the cheeses. Cool for a minute before digging in and you may need a large napkin. 

If you would like a healthier alternative for Italian Cold Cuts, then you may want to check out Applegate Farm products.
According to Applegate Farm’s policies:

When you pick up an Applegate Farms product, you can be assured that…

  • Our animals are never given antibiotics. Healthy animals don’t need medicine. Instead, we give them space, fresh air, and a healthy diet, which we’re certain beats the alternative.
  • Our livestock eat a completely vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. Cattle in our organic program are grass-fed. Hogs and poultry in our organic program are fed a grain diet that includes corn, soy, barley, and flax that are free from GMOs.
  • Our animals are never given hormones or artificial growth promotants. They grow at their natural rate.
  • All of our products are made with natural and organic ingredients. If you aren’t familiar with a particular ingredient, email us and we’ll tell you what it is.
  • Our products are all minimally processed, allowing for a wholesome texture and taste.
  • Our products never contain artificial nitrates or nitrites. Instead, we use celery juice and sea salt to preserve our products the natural and old fashioned way.
  • Our deli meat, hot dogs, burgers, and bacon are gluten and casein free.
  • Our products are made from natural and organic whole muscle meat. Yes, even our hot dogs! No mystery here.

Genoa Salami

Soppressata

Capacola

Pancetta

Proscuitto

Pepperoni


Mason Disick Eating

Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Years ago, Italians often took three hour lunch breaks and ate mutli-course meals.  As times have changed, it is more rare for Italian families to gather at the table during lunch and have a full home-made meal. Italy’s economical situation is such that many mothers have had to take on full-time jobs, children are in school until mid-afternoon and most people do not have time to go home during lunch time.  Typically, people working in offices have a 1-hour break and eat lunch at a bar or pasticceria, that offers foods to go, such as fresh made sandwiches, prepared salads, or square slices of pizza or stuffed focaccia.    Italian sandwiches aren’t multi-layered, American style sandwiches but, usually,  just  simple focaccia bread with a few lean slices of prosciutto, some sliced tomatoes with mozzarella or pecorino cheese.  Italian pizzas are very thin. have limited toppings and are usually vegetarian.   Bread without butter and salads are also very common at lunch. Pastas are also popular and usually full of vegetables.  One exception is on Sundays, many families will have a large, 2-3 hour lunch and often eat this meal out in a restaurant.

As a child growing up in an Italian-American home, I remember Sundays were pretty much reserved for family. My father would take us to visit our grandparents or other relatives while my mother prepared the Sunday meal.  Sunday lunch was really dinner but held early in the afternoon. After my grandmother died, when I was quite young, my grandfather would often join us for Sunday dinner. As my children were growing up. I tried to make meals an important time to be together and we kept some of the traditions built around meals. Lunch, however, was lunch – a quick meal. Through the years I have gravitated toward lighter and healthy selections for lunch.

Antipasto

My favorite food for lunch is soup, so I keep a number of containers in the freezer to pull out when I feel like soup for lunch.  Salads or typical items found on an antipasto tray are also a favorite.

Below are two soup recipes that are substantial enough for lunch and two salad recipes that I hope you will enjoy.

        Tortellini Soup with Escarole

  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-32 oz. cartons low sodium chicken broth (8 cups)
  • 1 bunch escarole (or 8 cups spinach) washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1-9 oz. pkg. fresh tortellini
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable and member of the chicory family, along with frisée, endive and Belgian endive. You can find it in the lettuce department of your supermarket.

Directions

In soup pot, heat oil and saute shallots for two minutes.

Add both containers of chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add tortellini, return to boiling, reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add the escarole and simmer until the greens are wilted.

Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve soup with shaved Parmesan cheese strips.

Lentils are a small but nutritional member of the legume family and are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber.
Lentil colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black

Lentil Soup

  • 1 lb. dried brown lentils ( about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup medium pearl barley
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-16 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cover the lentils with water in a large bowl.  Let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add garlic, onion, celery, carrots and potato.

Cook, stirring several times, for 10 minutes.

Add water, chicken broth, lentils and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Check the lentils and barley, to see if they are tender, after 45 minutes.

Add tomatoes, oregano salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Salads

My favorite salad is made of fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

4 servings

  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

    Tomato Mozzarella Salad

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly-ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Alternate fresh mozzarella slices with sliced tomatoes, overlapping, in a circular design on a serving plate.  (See photo)

Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Just before serving, drizzle with top-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Chickpea Salad

4 servings

  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1- 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 8 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Chickpeas are a legume used in many Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Round and tan colored, chickpeas have a mild, nutty flavor. They are also known as garbanzo beans.

Whisk olive oil and lemon in a salad bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill.

Serve over tender lettuce leaves (such as, Bibb).

I like to top this salad with leftover shrimp or grilled tuna.  Roasted red peppers are also a good addition



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