There are so many flavors going on in this sandwich that each bite yields something new. The sandwich has several components that you can change; choose other vegetables you like or leave the recipe as is.
Pressing the sandwich gives the bread a chance to absorb juices and allows the various flavors to meld. It is helpful to blot the vegetables before putting the sandwich together to remove any excess moisture.
The recipe calls for broccoli slaw mix, a combination of broccoli, carrots and red cabbage that is available in the produce section of many supermarkets. You will have half of the slaw mixture as leftovers, which can be served as a side dish.
Make Ahead: Make the slaw mixture and prep the vegetables a day in advance. The sandwich can be assembled several hours ahead of time, but don't press it any earlier than 2 hours in advance. If the bread is durable (and a rustic loaf should be), the sandwich can be assembled, wrapped tightly and refrigerated up to a day in advance.
Servings: 6 - 8
- For the slaw
- 8 ounces broccoli slaw mix or 14 ounces coleslaw mix (see headnote)
- 1-inch piece jalapeño pepper, finely chopped, with seeds (or to taste)
- 1 scallion, white and light-green parts, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the filling
- 4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup store-bought balsamic vinaigrette
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), ends removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
- 1 pound microwavable packaged baby spinach
- 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- For assembly
- One 24-ounce loaf olive or rustic country bread
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 1/2 cup fresh goat or ricotta cheese
- 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- Contents of one 12-ounce jar of roasted red or yellow peppers, drained and blotted dry
For the slaw: Combine the broccoli slaw or coleslaw mix, the jalapeno pepper, scallion, celery seed, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and black pepper in a medium bowl; this will make about 3 cups. Cover and refrigerate.
Position the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
For the filling: Spray the portobello mushrooms lightly on each side with nonstick cooking oil spray and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place them on the baking sheet, stemmed sides up. Drizzle them with the balsamic vinaigrette. Broil for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are sizzling and nicely browned. Turn the mushrooms over and broil for about 10 minutes, until browned on the second side. Transfer them to a large, shallow dish or rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Discard the foil from the baking sheet and re-line with a new sheet of foil. Spray the eggplant slices lightly on each side with the nonstick cooking oil spray and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Broil for 7 minutes on each side, until they are soft and lightly browned. Transfer the eggplant to the baking dish with the mushrooms to cool. Repeat the process of spraying, seasoning and broiling with the zucchini slices, broiling them for about 3 minutes on each side.
Cook the spinach according to the package directions (or blanch it quickly in boiling water). Rinse the cooked spinach with cold running water until cool. Squeeze to remove excess moisture, then transfer to a small bowl and add the garlic, oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
To assemble: Cut the bread in half as you would a roll. Pull out about half of the loaf's interior from the top half; discard the excess bread. Spread pesto on the cut sides of both the bottom and top halves of the bread. Spread the goat cheese or ricotta cheese on the top half.
Cover the bottom half with the mushrooms, then the eggplant, the smoked mozzarella, the peppers, the zucchini, the spinach and 1 1/2 cups of the slaw mixture (reserve the rest for another use). Place the top of the bread on the sandwich and press down lightly. Tightly wrap the loaf with plastic wrap. You will need to wrap it 2 or 3 times from different angles to ensure that everything is contained, then wrap the sandwich 3 or 4 more times. Transfer the wrapped sandwich to a rimmed baking sheet or shallow dish, and place a weight on top of it (such as a brick or a skillet with a can of tomatoes on top of it). Refrigerate for 2 hours.
When ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut the sandwich into 6 to 8 portions, cutting right through the plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap and serve.
From Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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