Saturday, August 15, 2015

Roasted Tomato Californian

Last Year's Post: Empanadas with Chicken, Corn and Zucchini
Two Years Ago:  Tomato Crumble

Veggie sandwiches are a great way to use the summer harvest, whether from your garden or from the farmer's market. If you think building a veggie sandwich means simply layering a few veggies between two slices of bread, you're right but you'll probably end up with a boring sandwich.  Like anything else, veggie sandwiches benefit from a variety of tastes and textures - soft and creamy, crisp and crunchy, etc.  When I found this particular recipe it had promise - I liked the goat cheese spread and the idea of roasting the tomatoes - but it lacked freshness and crunch (all the vegetables were roasted).  So, I used raw zucchini and yellow squash plus added cucumber for additional freshness.  The finishing touch was to roast the tomatoes with garlic, balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil which added richness and complexity to the flavor.  (If you find truly spectacular summer tomatoes, by all means use them fresh.) Of course, you could add some turkey or chicken to the sandwich as well, but I think it's perfectly satisfying as is.

About the tomatoes:  roasting is a great way to concentrate the flavor of tomatoes, whether they're less-than-optimal winter tomatoes or really great summer tomatoes. (It's also a great way to preserve summer's bounty when your tomato plants explode.) Be sure to make extra because they're excellent in salads, sandwiches, tarts, omelets, or tomato sauces and they freeze beautifully.  I've come across a number of recipes for roasting them, but this is one of my favorites because of the flavor added from the balsamic vinegar and garlic.  If you prefer a more straightforward roasted tomato, simply leave them out.  Keep an eye on your tomatoes when they're in the oven and decide for yourself when they're roasted to your liking.  The timing will vary with the size and amount of water in your tomatoes.

Roasted Tomato Californian
Serves 4

½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
12-16 roasted tomato halves (recipe follows)
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small thinly sliced yellow squash
1 small thinly sliced zucchini
Salt and pepper
4 French or whole wheat rolls, or 8 slices multi-grain bread
2 small avocados
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Prepare roasted tomatoes according to the recipe below (always make extras for salads, tarts, other sandwiches, etc.).

Combine the mayonnaise and goat cheese in a small bowl.  Refrigerate if not using immediately; remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to using to allow to soften.

Cut the rolls in half.  Spread some of the goat cheese mixture on the top and bottom of each roll.  Place the cucumber, yellow squash, and zucchini on the bottom of the roll and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add 3-4 tomato halves to each roll. 
Immediately before serving, cut each avocado in half and thinly slice (don’t do this earlier or the avocado will brown).  Top the sandwiches with avocado slices, onion, and sprouts.  Place the top on each sandwich and press together gently.  

Roasted Tomatoes
Roma or plum tomatoes – as many as you want
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh garlic, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 325d.  Line a baking pan with foil.  Core each tomato and slice in half the long way.  Dig out the seeds with your fingers (and any tough pieces of core) and discard.  Place the tomatoes cut side up on the baking pan.  Drizzle with vinegar and oil, allowing some oil to drip into the pan.  Move each tomato around a little to ensure the bottom is coated so it won’t stick.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and just a little sugar.  Top each tomato half with 2-3 slices of garlic.  Roast for two hours or more, depending on the size and water content of your tomatoes, until they’re to your liking.  Freeze any extras.

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