This vegetarian sandwich has a lovely combination of most of the typical Summer flavours and it gets all the extra points for being super easy to make. Featuring seasonal ingredients such as tomatoes, red peppers, aubergines, and a good handful of fresh thyme, it perfectly embraces my philosophy “get the most out of each season”.
Good quality bread, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh seasonal ingredients are the key to getting this recipe right. It’s a simple dish that tastes like Summer; it has a hint of Mediterranean flavours and is a bit messy, exactly as you would expect from the most delicious sandwiches. If you have ever tried a Catalonian dish called Pan con tomate or Pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomatoes), you’ll be happy to know that the external layers of this sandwich somehow remind its deliciousness (Pan con tomate is not made with sliced or finely chopped tomatoes like bruschetta or an open toast – instead, it’s made with their pulp).
In my mind, Summer always goes hand in hand with fresh ripe tomatoes and I would use them to brighten up basically everything from pasta to a savoury breakfast but in this recipe I’ve decided to use tomato passata (one of my pantry’s staples). The idea of adding a layer of tomato passata on the bread (like you would do with mayonnaise, hummus or another sauce in a regular sandwich) can be used all year long and it’s a good way to pair a bit of Summer with the vegetables typically found in Autumn and Winter (get creative and then let me know how it goes).
Choose some sourdough bread or a similar rustic loaf (even better if it’s a whole grain option) that will balance the veggies with its earthy flavours. You could potentially use ciabatta or milk bread but the result won’t be the same.
When you place the sandwich in the pan or in the oven to toast the bread and melt the mozzarella, adjust the time according to your preferences. After trying this recipe a few times, I would say the best time to remove the sandwich from the pan/oven is when the bread is just a bit crunchy and the cheese is not fully melted. You can also easily adapt this sandwich to your needs using, for example, some gluten-free bread or dairy-free mozzarella.
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED FOR THIS RECIPE?
- chopping board
- baking pan to cook the veggies
- non-stick pan to toast the sandwich
THE ULTIMATE SUMMER SANDWICH
Ingredients (makes 2)
- 4 slices of bread (quite thick)
- 2 medium-sized aubergines
- 1 medium-sized red bell pepper
- 6-8 tbsp tomato passata
- 1 small handful of fresh thyme
- a pinch of black pepper
- a pinch of salt
- extra virgin olive oil
Method (takes 25-30 minutes)
Prepare the slices of aubergines and red pepper: roast them in the oven at 180°C for approx. 15 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper and salt or opt for grilled veggies. Slice up your bread and spread the tomato passata on all the internal layers (you’ll need approx. 2 tbsp for each slice but it depends on the exact size of your bread). Then add the other ingredients: start with some aubergines, followed by the red pepper, mozzarella, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil – add more aubergines to finish off your sandwich.
For some extra flavour, add a drizzle of olive oil to the external layers of the sandwich. Now you can toast the sandwich on a preheated non-stick pan or place it in a preheated oven at 190°C. Cook for approx. 5 minutes or until crispy and golden on the outside. Don’t let the mozzarella melt completely otherwise, the sandwich will be too soggy. Serve warm.
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