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 get this recipe right. It’s a simple dish that tastes of Summer, it has a hint of Mediterranean flavours and it’s a bit messy, exactly as you would expect from the best sandwiches. If you have ever tried a Catalonian dish called Pan con tomate or Pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomatoes), you’ll find out 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).
Summer always goes hand in hand with fresh ripe tomatoes in my mind and I would use them literally in everything from pasta to a savoury breakfast, but here I’ve decided to go for 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 hearty flavours. You could potentially use some ciabatta or milk bread but the result won’t be the same.
When you place the sandwich 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 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 a dairy-free mozzarella.
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
- extra virgin olive oil
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 or opt for grilled veggies. Slice up your bread and spread the tomato passata on both the internal layers (approx. 2 tbsp for each slice, but it depends on the dimensions 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.
Place it in a preheated oven at 190°C for approx. 5 minutes or according to your preferences. I don’t add any salt because, with the other ingredients, the sandwich is already rich in flavour and often both the bread and the tomata passata have some salt.
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