Make Ahead

Grilled Garden Sandwich

June 21, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 3 to 4
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.

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

Test Kitchen Notes

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. - jvcooks —jvcooks

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lorigoldsby
  • gingerroot
  • lapadia
  • Cook the Story
    Cook the Story
  • wssmom
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

23 Reviews

Ghazzzit September 16, 2012
Made this sandwich for a camping trip - it was really delicious and perfect for traveling tucked in between a bunch of other items.
hardlikearmour September 17, 2012
That's great to hear!
lorigoldsby June 27, 2011
The only thing better than summer summer veggies on BREAD!
hardlikearmour June 27, 2011
I agree! I'm a bread junkie!
gingerroot June 24, 2011
Oh yum!! I could live on sandwiches like this and can't wait to try it.
hardlikearmour June 25, 2011
Thanks, gingerroot! It's one of my favorites.
lapadia June 24, 2011
This sandwich is talkin' to me!
hardlikearmour June 24, 2011
Thanks, lapadia. I ate on it for 3 days, and it was yummy.
Cook T. June 23, 2011
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!
hardlikearmour June 23, 2011
Thanks, CtS! I love grilled veggie sandwiches, and almost anything is improved with cheese and a little heat.
wssmom June 22, 2011
I don't know which is lovelier, the photo or the recipe! Guess I'll have to try it out ASAP!
hardlikearmour June 22, 2011
Thanks, wssmom! Let me know if you get a chance to try it.
boulangere June 22, 2011
Beautiful enough to eat straight out of the photo. Fantastic combination. Love the make ahead part. I'm guessing the bread gets nicely marinated.
hardlikearmour June 22, 2011
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!
hardlikearmour June 23, 2011
I just ate the last bit of the leftovers 2 days after making it. Bread still nicely chewy - Huzzah!
meganvt01 June 21, 2011
That looks great - I love the addition of the heat from the jalapeno.
hardlikearmour June 21, 2011
The heat is nice, even with a whole jalepeño it's just pleasant.
Sagegreen June 21, 2011
Delicious and vegetarian!
hardlikearmour June 21, 2011
aargersi June 21, 2011
absolutely right up my alley. Yum
hardlikearmour June 21, 2011
Thanks, aargersi! I considered scrapping the idea after I saw your Marinated Garden recipe.
mrslarkin June 21, 2011
LOVE grilled veggie sangwidges. Well done, hla.
hardlikearmour June 21, 2011
I love them too, mrslarkin!