Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salad & Sandwich Summer: Caprese Sandwich with Pine Nut Aioli and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

June is here, and although the solstice is not yet upon us, summer is here in my mind. To celebrate the breezy, fun, and warm joys of summer, The Walking Cookbook will feature simple salads and sandwiches all summer long. Why salads and sandwiches?
  • First of all, it's awesome alliteration (Salad & Sandwich Summer)
  • Less cooking means less heat! There will be some stovetop and toaster oven action, but the goal is to reduce the use of our big, hot, poorly insulated oven in our non-airconditioned apartment.
  • Sandwiches and salads are just so easy to make. The ingredients can be prepped ahead of time and layered or tossed together just before serving.
The layout of Salad & Sandwich Summer will be a little simpler than normal, since I'll be focusing less on memorizing master recipes and a little more on playing with culinary ideas. So let's get the ball rolling with a recap of my Caprese Sandwiches with Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad.

Caprese Sandwich with Pine Nut Aioli
One of my favorite appetizers growing up was Insalata Caprese, the delicious layered "salad" with slices of fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. It originated in Capri, Italy, and is best known in the US as having olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar as a dressing (though the balsamic was added by Americans).

I decided to use the freshness of Caprese in a main course by turning it into a sandwich. The basic assembly came from the various ingredients. My own special touch was to add a pine nut aioli, which is basically a fresh, garlicky mayo with pine nuts added in. I was scared at first, but now I want to make everything into aioli! It is definitely better than just adding flavors to pre-made mayo.

The Recipe: Caprese Sandwich with Pine Nut Aioli
From The Walking Cookbook
Yield: 4 sandwiches
Sandwich Ingredients:
  • 1 long baguette, cut into fourths and each section split down the middle
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pine nut aioli (see recipe below)
  • 1 log fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thinly at an angle
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, torn into medium pieces
  • salt and pepper
Sandwich Preparation:
  • Lay the bread open and brush the inside of each piece with olive oil.
  • Heat a non-stick pan or griddle to medium heat.
  • Place each piece of bread oiled-side down onto the heat until just toasted around the edges. Remove and repeat until all bread is lightly toasted.
  • Brush the inside of each bottom piece of bread with balsamic vinegar. Don't skimp!
  • Spread 1 tbsp aioli on the inside of each top piece of bread.
  • Assemble each sandwich: Layer tomato slices and cucumber slices on the bottom piece of bread. Layer basil pieces and mozzarella slices on the top piece.
  • Grind some black pepper and sprinkle some salt over the toppings.
  • Fold the sandwich together and enjoy!
My first gif! Awesome!!
Pine Nut Aioli Ingredients:
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt to taste
Pine Nut Aioli Preparation:
  • In a food processor, blend the garlic and egg until the garlic is chopped and well mixed in.
  • Remove the food pusher from the food processor and turn the machine on. Very slowly pour in the oils until the the mixture is smooth, cream colored, and looks like mayo (that's what you just created!!)
  • Squeeze in the lemon juice, sprinkle in some salt, and toss in the pine nuts. Pulse until the pine nuts are chopped but not pureed.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
I had dinner a few months ago at Left Bank in the West Village, and although I was impressed with everything there, the real winner was the Brussels Sprouts Salad. The sprouts were raw and thinly shaved, tossed with a light dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Finally, they topped the salad with shredded aged cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

I have recreated this recipe many times since, and I am always happy with it. Since I am not a huge hazelnut fan, I have used walnuts and pine nuts as substitutes. I tend to add in some lemon zest and a healthy dose of parmesan cheese as well (always cutting a hunk off to nibble on while I cook).

The Recipe: Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
From The Walking Cookbook, inspired by Left Bank
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (or nuts of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Cut the stem off of the Brussels sprouts and shave or chop them into fine shreds. Toss into a bowl.
  • Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Hand toss and serve cold.

1 comment:

  1. Just made this salad with cashews! It definitely was the best part of that dinner at Left Bank.