Grilled Garden Sandwich

By • June 21, 2011 • 25 Comments

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Author Notes: One of my favorite picnic sandwiches is grilled veggies and cheese on crusty bread. It's filling but light at the same time, and seems the epitome of summer food to me. I've never used a recipe for it, and it varies based on what ever strikes my fancy from the garden or market. It is always good, but I wanted to make it better. Inspiration struck in the form of a pasta dish. - hardlikearmour

One of my favorite light summer suppers is Grilled Garden Pasta, a recipe I gleaned from Better Homes and Gardens magazine several years ago. It's a combination of pasta lightly dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, topped with chunks of grilled vegetables, and sprinkled with a gremolata-like mixture of cheese, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, and jalepeño. The gremolata really makes the dish; it is fresh and piquant with a pleasant amount of heat.

I decided to incorporate the gremolata concept into the sandwich. It is essentially the Grilled Garden Pasta translated into a sandwich form. It can be eaten as soon as it's made, but it improves if it is wrapped tightly and rested for an hour or two at room temperature. It is even good if refrigerated overnight. It is a bit messy to eat, so an outdoor setting is ideal – just be sure to pack some napkins.
hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: This sandwich is a labor of love, but when all the components come together it's really tasty. The well-balanced gremolata cheese spread melds together with the toasted bread and grilled veggies creating a fresh garden sandwich. All you carnivores out there, don't be fooled by this vegetable sandwich -- it's "meaty" and super-satisfying! As hardlikearmour suggests, pack some extra napkins because it is a bit messy to eat. - jvcooksjvcooks

Serves 3 to 4

For the Gremolata Cheese Spread

  • 8 ounces fromage blanc
  • 1 small to medium clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce parmesan – microplaned
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • ½ to 1 jalepeño, (seeds removed) finely diced
  • generous ¼ cup chiffonade cut basil
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Grilled Garden Sandwich

  • 2 medium summer squash (elongated type)
  • 1 small to medium eggplant (the oval to egg-shaped type)
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½-inch thick slice of a large sweet onion
  • 1 loaf French batard
  • olive oil
  • juice from one lemon
  • kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Remove fromage blanc from refrigerator to soften.
  2. Cut ends off summer squash, and slice squash lengthwise into thirds. Cut stem end off eggplant and slice eggplant lengthwise into fourths. Sprinkle cut surfaces of squash and eggplant with kosher salt and arrange in a colander with as little overlapping as possible. Set colander aside over a bowl or in the sink for 30 minutes.
  3. Quarter red pepper from stem to blossom end. Remove stem, ribs and seeds. Set aside. Carefully thread onion slice onto a bamboo skewer. Set aside.
  4. Heat your grill or grill pan to medium. You'll be grilling over direct heat.
  5. Slice batard in half so the bottom half is about 1-inch thick. Use your fingers to pluck most of the bread from the inside of the top slice. Discard or better yet, save for bread crumbs or rustic croutons. Brush the cut surfaces with olive oil.
  6. Mince garlic and sprinkle it with the salt. Using the flat side of a chef's knife scrape the garlic and salt back and forth on your cutting board until it becomes a paste. Transfer garlic mixture to a bowl. Add remaining gremolata cheese spread ingredients, and mix well to combine. Set aside until ready to assemble sandwich.
  7. Grill bread on cut surfaces only for several minutes until grill marks form. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
  8. Rinse eggplant and squash and pat dry with paper towels or a clean tea towel. Set aside. Place ½ cup olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper in a bowl, and whisk until well-combined. Brush mixture on all sides of the eggplant and squash slices. Add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt to the olive oil mixture, and whisk to dissolve. Brush all surfaces of the onion and the red pepper.
  9. Grill vegetables over medium heat until grill marks form on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Then flip until vegetables are softened and grill marks form on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes. Place red pepper pieces into a small paper bag, and crimp closed. Remove onion from skewer and coarsely chop. After pepper has steamed for several minutes, remove and discard the charred skin. Thinly slice the pepper.
  10. Spread the gremolata cheese spread in a thin even layer on both top and bottom halves of the bread. You should use all of the spread. Layer the eggplant and squash over the bottom half of the sandwich, distributing each in an even layer. Scatter an even layer of red pepper and onion over the other vegetables. Place the "lid" on the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich as tightly as you can with plastic wrap. You want the filling components to smoosh together and get really friendly. It's even okay if the sandwich gets a bit crushed in the picnic basket - the batard is quite sturdy and can take it! Allow to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or overnight in the fridge before slicing with a serrated knife and serving.
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over 2 years ago Celestyyne

Made this sandwich for a camping trip - it was really delicious and perfect for traveling tucked in between a bunch of other items.

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over 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

That's great to hear!

Lorigoldsby

over 3 years ago lorigoldsby

The only thing better than summer veggies....is summer veggies on BREAD!

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I agree! I'm a bread junkie!

Img_1958

over 3 years ago gingerroot

Oh yum!! I could live on sandwiches like this and can't wait to try it.

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, gingerroot! It's one of my favorites.

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

over 3 years ago lapadia

This sandwich is talkin' to me!

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, lapadia. I ate on it for 3 days, and it was yummy.

Headshot

over 3 years ago Cook the Story

There's always something special about cold (or room temp) food that has grilled char flavour. Add some hot pepper and cheese and I'm there!

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, CtS! I love grilled veggie sandwiches, and almost anything is improved with cheese and a little heat.

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

I don't know which is lovelier, the photo or the recipe! Guess I'll have to try it out ASAP!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, wssmom! Let me know if you get a chance to try it.

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Beautiful enough to eat straight out of the photo. Fantastic combination. Love the make ahead part. I'm guessing the bread gets nicely marinated.

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, boulangere. The bread holds up well even after sitting in the fridge overnight (as I found out with the left-overs.) The crust retained it's texture, and the innards didn't get soggy. The oiling and grilling then coating with the cheese spread worked as I hoped!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I just ate the last bit of the leftovers 2 days after making it. Bread still nicely chewy - Huzzah!

Meg_b_f52

over 3 years ago meganvt01

That looks great - I love the addition of the heat from the jalapeno.

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

The heat is nice, even with a whole jalepeño it's just pleasant.

Bike2

over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Delicious and vegetarian!

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yep!

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over 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

absolutely right up my alley. Yum

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, aargersi! I considered scrapping the idea after I saw your Marinated Garden recipe.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

LOVE grilled veggie sangwidges. Well done, hla.

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I love them too, mrslarkin!

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Beautiful sandwich!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, sdebrango!