Scrumptious Sandwiches and Salads
Last night my husband and I had the most scrumptious dinner. I didn’t make it for the kids, thinking they wouldn’t like it, but then of course they did and begged bits off our plates, and there wasn’t enough to go around. In the end they were forced to eat their pasta, which they usually beg for. (There is no winning as a mother. I am resigned to this.) Our dinner was delicious though, and we enjoyed it– even with the slightly petulant looks from our children. But of course I didn’t take any pictures of it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Really, really scrumptious.
I’ve been revisiting some of the senior members of my cookbook collection later, and wondering how I could have neglected some of them for so long. One that I’ve been pulling down a lot lately, Fields of Greens, has been a resident in my kitchen almost since I moved out of my parents house (it is trumped only by the cookbook my mom gave me when I moved out, The New Basics Cookbook). At this point in my life I was pretty much a strict vegetarian, and one of my roommates gave me this for Christmas that year when I was 19. Soon after I hosted a large family meal at our makeshift college house, and the entire menu was from this book. Spinach Salad with Tangerines, Red Onions, and Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette, Sweet Dumpling Squash Filled with Wild Rice, Golden Raisins, and Pine Nuts, and finished with Gateau Moule with a Raspberry Sauce. That too was a scrumptious meal.
I’ve never completely neglected this book, in part because every recipe I’ve made out of it has been delicious, and, more importantly, worked without fail. And there are recipes that I return to again and again (Butternut Squash soup, the spinach salad and gateau mentioned above, and a few others), and it is not too overburdened with choices (one reason I find my 6 inch thick The Bon Apetit Cookbook I’ve only had a few years in a giveaway pile right now, almost untouched– sometimes more is not better).
And so returning to this book for inspiration the other day, I happened upon a simple little meal of grilled mushroom, onion and cheese sandwiches and a winter salad that seemed perfect for these cold wet days. So, although I did not take any pictures, I’m including an abbreviated version of these recipes here for you to try. Just take my word for it. Scrumptious. (And apparently kid friendly.)
Grilled Sandwich with Mushrooms, Fontina, and Dijon Mustard
adapted from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville
I’ve beefed up some of the ingredients to make the leftovers, or seconds a possibility. The original recipe made exactly (no more, no less) 2 sandwiches.
1 red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1/2 lb- 1lb sliced white mushrooms
2-4 tsp. chopped parsley
sturdy sliced sourdough or good wheat bread (I used a 5 grain batard like loaf from a local bakery)
1/2-1 cup grated Fontina cheese (abt 2-4 oz)
unslated butter, softened to spreadable temp.
Heat some oil in a saute pan. Saute onions, with a little salt, until soft, or cook until carmelized (or as long as you can last– it takes about 10-15 minutes). Make sure you onions are very thinly sliced. When your onions are done, move to a bowl, and in the same pan add a little more oil (abt 1 tbsp.) and saute the mushrooms with a little salt and pepper until golden and soft. Add a little water to the pan when done to scrape up some of the pan juices. It should evaporate as you scrap in the hot pan. Mix onions and mushrooms together in a bowl and set aside. Heat a cast iron grill or pan, and panini press if you have one. Coat each slice of bread with Dijon. Pile 1/2 of the slices with mushroom/onion mixture and top with grated cheese (Don’t overfill as it will all fall out when you flip the sandwhich while grilling) and then another slice of bread. Butter top of bread. Place butter side down on grill, then butter other side and top with pannini press if you have one (or press down with a spatula). Grill until browned, then flip (like a grilled cheese, only a little messier to cook with mushrooms spilling out). Serve hot.
Simple Winter Salad, with nuts, cheese and fruit
adapted from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville
Her recipe calls for specific lettuces (endive, escarole, and watercress), but I just used the lettuce mix from our CSA.
Mixture of lettuces to your liking, bitter or spicy ones will work nicely mixed in
1 crisp apple, sliced thinly (I peeled mine, but not necc.)
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1-2 oz. Stilton cheese, crumbled
Place lettuce on plate. Sprinkle with apple, pecans, and cheese as desired. Top with a little cracked pepper. Dress with the Vinaigrette below, or another light dressing.
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (she uses sherry vinegar, but I never have that on hand)
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup light olive oil (I used extra virgin last night, and it was a little heavy. If you have it, use the light olive oil)
Combine vinegar, shallots and salt, then whisk in oil.