Sunday, August 30, 2009

Open-face Caprese Sandwiches

In my attempt to work my way through my giant stack of as-yet-untried recipes I am trying to make one new thing every week or so. This week: open-faced caprese sandwiches. (Well, Jenny - my brother's girlfriend - did all the cooking, I just supplied the recipe.) The verdict: very tasty, with perhaps a little less garlic next time. Here's the original recipe, compliments of Sunset Magazine (only the best magazine ever printed!):

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 slices (about 1/2 inch thick) crusty Italian bread
3 ripe medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
16 medium basil leaves
2 tablespoons balsalmic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare a grill for medium heat (350-450 degrees). Combine 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic and brush onto one side of each bread slice. Lay bread oiled side down on grill and cook until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Turn bread over, lay tomato slices onto bread to fit, overlapping if needed, then lay cheese slices over tomatoes. Cover grill and cook until cheese starts to melt, about 4 minutes. Transfer sandwiches to a platter. Put 2 basil leaves over each sandwich and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil and the vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Notes from our test run: We weren't able to find "crusty italian bread" so we used store made french bread instead and it turned out pretty well, probably a little softer (read: less crunchy) than the original bread would have been. We also used two different cheeses: a vegan mozzarella for Jenny and regular store bought part skim mozzarella. It probably would have been a little better with the fresh stuff but the stuff we had turned out really good too. We also skipped the balsalmic vinegar and drizzling the extra olive oil on top. So, try it if you want, whichever variation you want, and enjoy. There's nothing more summer than a caprese sandwich made with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes and basil from your garden...

Notes from trial #2: You don't have to own a grill! We did it in the oven using the broiler setting and it only takes a couple minutes - butter the bread, stick it in the oven for about 2 minutes or until the bread is a light golden, take it out, turn it over, put butter on the other side (I would recommend using either a spray margarine or melting a little butter and brush it on, as the bread is somewhat hard to handle when fresh out of the oven), add the tomatoes, basil, and cheese and put it back in the oven for another 2 minutes or so and it's ready to eat. When using the broiler, it might be better to put the basil between the tomatoes and the cheese so that it doesn't crisp up too much as it tends to do when it's on the top.

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