Janet's Tomato, Basil, and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches


Janet's Tomato, Basil, and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches

My dear friend Janet invited me out to go kayaking recently and served these delicious sandwiches before we hit the water.  They are a favorite with her children and grandchildren.

This is less a recipe and more a method of assembly.  Use the very best quality ingredients you can find and adjust amounts for the number of sandwiches you want to make.  You can use whatever cheese you prefer; Provolone, fresh mozzarella or even Parmesan, but Janet's favorite is Pecorino-Romano.

For each sandwich you will need:

1 fresh ciabatta roll or a 5-6 inch length of baguette
freshly minced or pressed garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
tomato slices
fresh whole basil leaves
paper-thin shavings of Pecorino-Romano cheese
 or slices of fresh mozzarella or Provolone  
roasted red pepper pieces, homemade* or from a jar, drained well.

Begin by heating the minced or pressed garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil over very low heat just until it begins to soften, three or four minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Slice the rolls or baguette pieces lengthwise.  Brush the cut side of each piece with the garlic and oil mixture.  On the bottom half, layer the remaining ingredients in the following order:  sliced tomato, salt, basil leaves, cheese, roasted peppers.  Cover with the top piece of bread and serve immediately.

*You can roast red peppers easily on your backyard grill.  Wash the peppers well and leave them whole.  Place directly on the grill over a medium flame. Using tongs, turn the peppers  often until they are black and blistered all over.  Be patient; this will take 15 to 20 minutes.  Place the charred peppers in a plastic bag and close tightly to let them steam.  When cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel off the blackened skins. (To preserve the most flavor, rinse your fingers under running water, but not the peppers.) Lay the peeled peppers on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut the stem off.  Slice the pepper open and use the back of your knife to scrape out the seeds and any membrane. Cut each pepper into three or four pieces.

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