Friday, August 17, 2012

Portabella Mushroom Sandwich with Pesto

While the husbands away, the wife will play…in the kitchen that is!  I miss Josh lots when he is out of town, but I make the most of it and try new recipes almost every night while he’s traveling or on call.  It keeps me busy, makes the time go by quickly, and I get to try my ever growing list of recipes I want to test.  So, last weekend when he was out of town for a few days I got to cooking.  All but one recipe was a success and I will share them on here!

First up, was to recreate an amazing sandwich I had while at the Atlanta airport a couple weeks ago.  I know, I know, airport eating that was tasty?  On this trip, we had a two hour layover and had plenty of time to search for a sit down meal.  Thankfully, Josh understands my dislike for airports and flying as well as my borderline anxiety I get when trying to find something healthy to eat.  He is very patient while I walk around and peruse looking for just the right spot for us.  I don’t even remember what this place was called, but we found a great book/coffee/café shop that had a very nice looking, healthy for an airport menu.  I ordered their portabella mushroom sandwich (albeit with fries, but they were baked!)  and proceeded to eat the entire thing.  It was pretty big, and I probably should have taken off the top part of the bread, but I wanted to get really full so  I just had to finish it all.  You see, I have this rule…well, I have LOTS of rules while flying, but one of them is I don’t like to eat on airplanes.  Not even snacks.  It grosses me out.  I had a three hour flight ahead of me and needed to fuel up so I ate all of it and enjoyed every bite.  Along with the portabella, it had roasted red pepper, mozzarella cheese and a yummy pesto all on a ciabatta bun.

As I decided what I should make for my first dinner I chose to recreate the Atlanta airport sandwich.  I chose to do this for lots of reasons.  One, I wanted to recreate a delicious meal.  Two, pine nuts are expensive, but I found them at Aldi’s last week (so exciting!) and couldn’t wait to make pesto with them.  Three, I adore roasted red peppers.   I knew it couldn’t be too hard to make and I was right-it turned out beautifully!  I didn’t have a recipe as I was simply putting together a sandwich, but I did follow a recipe for the pesto.  Along with the pesto I also had to grill my mushroom and roast my peppers.  For the mushroom, I descaled it and let it soak in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar while I prepared the rest of the sandwich.  I then grilled it for 5-8 minutes on both sides.  There’s no real trick, just cook it until it gets soft.  To roast peppers, you want to turn them black.  That’s right, all you who feel like you burn things, maybe you should try roasting peppers; blackened is the goal!  Simply put your whole pepper(s) on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.  Yep, that’s it.  Turn your oven to 500 degrees and when it’s heated put the pan in.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the skin is black.  I usually flip mine halfway through, but I don’t know that it’s necessary.  You will see in the pics below, but when you take them out of the oven you need to cover them with foil and let it sit about ten minutes.  This causes them to “sweat” a bit and condense so you can take the skin off easily.  Then, assemble away and enjoy the fanciest sandwich you’ve ever made!

Pesto Sauce

1 1/3 cup loosely packed basil leaves
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 Cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons pine nuts

In a food processor, pulse basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and pine nuts until chopped. Add in half the olive oil and cheese and pulse to blend, add in the rest and continue to pulse until combined. Makes 1 cup. Keep refrigerated.

This is what the pepper looks like just out of the oven.

Cover with foil for 10 minutes.
Take the foil off and they are done "sweating" and mushy.
The skin should peel right off and inside, you have a delicious roasted pepper.  Simply take off the top, scoop the seed out of the inside and slice to desired size.
I even made grill marks on my mushroom, I was so proud of myself. :)

Your pesto will look like the one on the right.  I also made a kale pesto (pictured left) and wasn't a huge fan.  I try and try to like kale because it's so good for you, but it's not working out. 

Ciabatta is delicious, but I used a much healthier 100% whole wheat sandwich thin.  Spread some pesto, a couple slices of mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you like), some of your roasted peppers and your mushroom. 

I made two in order to try both pestos, but only ended up eating the pine nut pesto one.  No sense wasting my calories on some kale that I don't like that much.  I have one of those sandwich makers so I put it in that to heat and melt the cheese.  If you don't have one, I would just grill it on the stove like you would a grilled cheese.  It shouldn't take long, just need to melt the cheese.  If you don't like mushrooms or if you want some meat try it with chicken or add more veggies.  The possibilites are endless.  My side dish was some sauteed spinach with pine nuts.  Recipe coming soon.

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