I’m going to assume we’ve all had it up to our masks hearing about Covid cooking. Sourdough starter, banana bread, air-frying, everyone’s done it, blogged about it, made a Tik-Tok, and written a New York Times think piece. Whatever you’re going to get out of this catastrophe, cooking-wise, you’re probably already there and beyond.
I’m not going to add to that noise. I’m just going to tell you about a sandwich I made.
Of course they had me at “French,” but “Summer,” “Zucchini” and certainly “Tapenade” helped seal the deal. Friends It’s gooood. Like a salad sandwich, and if that doesn’t appeal to you, well, go back to air-frying your sourdough banana bread or whatever you were doing to suppress the quotidian sense of impending doom.
The zucchini put up a bit of a fight in that it refused to brown even after twice as long in the oven as the recipe suggests. It wasn’t until I switched to the broiler that I saw some real action. And honestly the zucchini gets a little lost in everything going on in this dish so cook it whatever way is easiest and fastest — grill, grill pan, stir-fry, sous-vide — it’s a global pandemic, nobody cares.
My favorite flavor among the many was the mint tossed with the mesclun. Just enough to remind us that it is, indeed, actually summer even though it’s unrecognizable in so many ways.
French Summer Sandwiches with Zucchini and Olive Tapenade, from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (America's Test Kitchen)
- 2 zucchini, cut in half crosswise, then sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick planks
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 10 pitted green olives
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon capers, drained
- 1 ½ ounces (1½ cups) mesclun
- ⅓ cup minced fresh mint
- 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
- 1 (24-inch) baguette, cut crosswise into 4 equal lengths and sliced in half lengthwise
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss zucchini with 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, then spread in single layer on aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until zucchini are spotty brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through baking. (Or broil, grill, pan fry).
- Meanwhile, pulse olives, 2 tablespoons oil, shallot, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, garlic, and capers in food processor until mixture forms slightly chunky paste, about 10 pulses (do not overprocess). Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice together in medium bowl. Add mesclun and mint and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread goat cheese evenly over cut sides of each baguette. Assemble 4 sandwiches by layering ingredients as follows between prepared baguettes: olive tapenade, zucchini, and mesclun mixture. Press gently on sandwiches to set. Serve.
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