Sandwiches can be fabulous vehicles for repurposing leftovers — the roasted vegetables from last night’s dinner, plus a little cheese and/or pickles from a jar, plus a condiment made from the weekend’s salsa. Or they can be as from-scratch as you dare, based on a new round of roasting, braising or stir-frying, plus a DIY aioli, homemade pickles or even your own freshly baked bread.
In between is a sandwich like this Mexican torta from Christopher Kimball’s new book, “Milk Street Tuesday Nights” (Little, Brown and Co.). You lightly toast store-bought kaiser rolls, mash and season avocado to slather on one side of the rolls, refry some canned pinto beans for the other and stir-fry mushrooms, poblano chiles and onions to go in between. Chopped pickled jalapeños and some of their juice add acid to the refried beans, and slices of pepper jack cheese add richness — plus another hit of spice and tartness.
It’s a winning combination, a generously stuffed sandwich with one of the best qualities of all: It doesn’t taste like it came together as quickly as it did. I won’t tell if you won’t.
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Use substantial but thin-crusted rolls like kaiser rolls for building these — not soft and fluffy ones such as hamburger rolls, which won’t hold up under the weight of the fillings.
Adapted from “Milk Street Tuesday Nights,” by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown, 2018).
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium to large poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
One 15-ounce can no-salt-added pinto beans, drained, with ¼ cup liquid reserved
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup drained sliced pickled jalapeños, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon pickling liquid
Flesh of 2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 kaiser rolls
6 deli slices or 4 ounces shredded pepper-jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Use a teaspoon to scrape the dark gills from the underside of the mushroom caps; discard that material. Cut the caps into ¼ -inch slices.
Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms, chiles, onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have lightly browned and softened, 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
Using the same skillet, increase the heat to medium-high. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil and heat until shimmering. Add the beans and coriander; cook for 3 minutes, mashing with a fork or a potato masher, until the mixture resembles a coarse puree and begins to brown at the edges.
Stir in the reserved bean liquid and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the beans are dry. Remove from the heat, then stir in ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, the pickled jalapeños and the pickling liquid. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.
Mash the avocados with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and the lime juice in a medium bowl. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.
Arrange the top and bottom halves of the rolls cut sides down on the baking sheet. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and bake (middle rack) until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the tops to a large plate and turn the bottom halves cut sides up. Leave the oven on.
Spread equal amounts of the bean mixture on the cut sides of each bottom roll. Top with the poblano-mushroom mixture, followed by the cheese. Bake (middle rack) until the cheese begins to melt, 3 to 5 minutes.
Spread the avocado mixture on the cut sides of the top halves of the rolls, then place those on top of the tortas, and serve warm.
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