My every day cooking is all about what I can make quickly but with the most flavour. I usually don't spend more than 20-30 minutes on preparing a meal during the week, and I'm not about to spend hours in the kitchen making lunch on a Saturday.
And I just can't stand the thought of eating boring food. I don't eat with the soul purpose of refuelling myself, I want to enjoy the tastes, smells & textures while I'm refuelling myself.
So when I saw this tasty little sandwich on The Barefoot Contessa, I literally went out to the shops as the credits were rolling to buy the ingredients I'd need. But of course, I did change it a little to suit myself.
And what could be more tasty than the tang of goats cheese, balsamic & garlic marinated sweet roasted red pepper, the musky, peppery taste of fresh basil leaves on doughy ciabatta.
The textures of creamy, crunchy and pillowy soft.
The smell of sharp vinegar and the clove-like fragrance of basil.
This thing packs a punch!
This probably takes me about 30-40 minutes to make (that's from start to finish. A good few hours less than the original recipe), but a lot of that is spent waiting for the oven to do stuff while I sit watching tv or whatnot. That's my idea of a good Saturday lunch!
You can buy marinated roast red pepper but I can't always find it when I'm looking for it, and roasting your own is so easy there's just no excuse not to. If you have a gas stove, you can simply char the pepper directly over the flame. If you're all electric like me, all it takes is some time under the highest setting of the grill (broiler) with a few turns, and Bobs your aunty. You have a roasted red pepper.
As for the marinating? Easy as dumping the peeled strips of still warm sweet red pepper flesh into a bowl of olive oil, crushed garlic, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. I don't even bother to let it marinade for a few hours the way Ina does. 10 minutes tops! I like to spoon some of the marinade onto the bread so I'm still getting all that good flavour in there.
You can use any goats cheese you like. Herbed, garlic or plain, crumbly or not, anything you can get your hands on will do.
The fresh basil is a must. The smokiness of this herb is just so perfect with the other ingredients you'll know if it was missing.
I also like to buy the small ciabatta rolls that are half-baked and that you pop into the oven for about 8 minutes. It's like you got it hot out the oven at a bakery. Perfect!
I don't get overly excited about sandwiches, but this is worth it :)
For 2 medium to large sized rolls
2 Ciabatta Rolls, medium or large, baked or half baked
1 large Red Pepper, washed
75g-100g Goats Cheese, plain, herbed or whatever you preffer
6 - 8 Fresh Basil Leaves, washed
1 medium Garlic Clove, crushed or finely minced
A few glugs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 1/8 of a cup)
3-4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, freshly cracked
- Put your oven grill or broiler to its highest setting
- Place the whole red pepper on a baking sheet
- Place the pepper under the grill or broiler, turning the pepper a few times until all sides are charred
- Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle
- Prepare marinade in a bowl by mixing together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and crushed garlic
- Peel the skin off the red pepper
- Remove the stem and core by simply pulling the stem out of the pepper
- Slice pepper open and scrape out seeds
- Cut into strips
- Place the still warm pepper flesh into the marinade and gently toss around to coat everything
- Set aside for about 10 mins
- If you're using half baked ciabatta rolls, follow the instructions on packaging to finish baking them
- (Once out the oven and cooled) Cut the ciabatta rolls in half horizontally
- Spread the goats cheese on bottom half of each roll
- Arrange the strips of marinated pepper on top of the goats cheese
- Put 2-3 leaves of fresh basil onto each roll
- Finish off by drizzling some of the pepper marinade onto the top half of each ciabatta roll
- Cover each sandwich with the top half of ciabatta
Adapted from Ina Garten's "The Barefoot Contessa"
You can also assemble this on 1 large ciabatta loaf and then cut into portions
The pepper can be roasted and marinated a day before and kept in the fridge
Try adding slices of fresh tomato
You could also replace the roasted red pepper with marinated sundried tomatoes if you don't enjoy peppers
You can also use orange or yellow peppers, possibly a combination of all of them to add colour