Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sopressata Sandwiches with Avocado Spread

These yummy, gooey sandwiches are stacked high with flavor. Start with small squares of focaccia (or ciabatta) spread with creamy avocado, layer on thin slices of peppery salami, fresh mozzarella, and smoky roasted bell pepper, and give the sandwiches a quick pan-grill for a golden, toasty finish. The bread slices may look small but once they’re filled, you’ve got four servings of tasty, hearty goodness. 

I used sopressata because it’s especially peppery without being too salty. Other salamis will work too—choose your favorite and cut it into ultra-thin slices.

Slice the Salami Very Thinly

Yes, you can use jarred roasted peppers, but roasting your own is very easy—and very tasty. Simply cut a couple of medium red or orange (or both) peppers into large pieces (discarding stem and seeds), rub with olive oil, and roast in a 400° F oven, turning a few times, until the skin is black and blistered in spots. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag, close, and let steam 15 minutes. Now you’re ready to peel the loosened skin and slice the peppers into thin, one-inch strips. Done. And fresh.

Roasted Peppers
Peeled, Sliced Peppers

Serves 4

  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 scallion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 large ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 3-inch squares of focaccia, cut from a 12 X 9-inch loaf
  • 24 thin slices (about 1/16-inch) sopressata (or other 1-1/2-inch-diameter salami)
  • 8 thin slices fresh mozzarella (from a 4-oz ball)
  • roasted red or orange bell pepper strips, for serving
  • olive oil, for brushing
Sliced Focaccia Squares
Fresh Mozzarella Slices
  1. Place the garlic, scallion, chile, and cilantro in a small food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Scoop the flesh from the avocado into the bowl with the garlic mixture and add the cream cheese and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.
Ground Garlic Mixture 
Avocado Spread Ingredients
Avocado Spread
  1. Slice each focaccia square horizontally into tops and bottoms and lay on a work surface.
  2. Spread the avocado mixture on all 8 pieces. Divide the sopressata slices, mozzarella, and roasted bell pepper slices on the bottom halves and close the sandwiches, pressing down gently.
Avocado Spread Layer
Sopressata Layer 
Cheese Layer
Roasted Pepper Layer 
Ready to Grill
  1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet (or grill pan) over medium-high heat and brush with olive oil. Place the sandwiches in the pan and use a grill press or heavy spatula to press.
  2. Grill until lightly charred on the bottoms, 2-3 minutes. Turn and grill, continuing to press, until the second side is lightly charred and the cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes.
Press the Sandwiches
Serve the sandwiches hot or at room temperature. 

Sopressata Sandwiches with Avocado Spread

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