Sandwiches can be the best of things and the worst of things. For me, the word ‘sandwich’ still conjures up an image of tomato slices and Kraft singles stuck between soggy Tip Top slices. I would have had one of those pretty much every day of my school life. Bleugh!
It doesn’t have to be that way. For a friend’s recent party, I was asked to make the “vegetarian option” sandwich. I came up with this little filling, which I am extremely pleased with. It was inspired by the zucchini pizza on the cover of February’s Gourmet Traveller magazine.
My first step was to do away with the Tip Top. I opted instead for mini bagels, but this filling would work with pretty much any sort of bread.
I also made a smoked salmon/cream cheese option – for the traditionalists. I discussed these a while ago here.
Here is my new all-vegetarian version (up the back of the tray in the above photo):
20 mini bagels
350g cream cheese, at room temperature
1-2 lemons, just the juice
1 long red chilli
4 garlic cloves
A few handfuls of basil leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the ends off the zucchini. Slice them longways using a mandolin to about 4mm in thickness. Heat up the barbecue or grill pan (preferably the barbecue). Splash the zucchini with some olive oil and grill them for about 4 minutes on each side. I think they look best when the grill marks are nice and clear.
Place the zucchini in a large bowl and pour over the lemon juice.
Finely chop the garlic (or mash it up in a mortar and pestle with some salt.) Remove the seeds from the chilli and finely chop it. In a small saucepan, fry up the garlic and chilli in some olive oil on a low heat for about five minutes. Make sure that the garlic is well cooked, but not burnt.
Put the cream cheese in a bowl. Let the garlic and chilli cool a little and then add it to the cheese. Mix well. Tear up the basil leaves and mix those through also. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Slather generous amounts of the cream cheese mix on both sides of the bagel or bread. This will form a ‘seal’ that will prevent the zucchini from making the bread too soggy. Cut the zucchini to size and place it in the bread.
Et voila. Fabulous vegetarian sandwiches. Guaranteed to banish those soggy Kraft single sandwich memories forever!