Roast Pork & Asparagus Sandwich

This was a delicious sandwich that took just minutes to make. Of course, I already had some pork roast in the fridge from supper the other night. I made Earl Grey roasted pork, but this would work with any good roast pork.

For Earl Grey Roast Pork, preheat oven to 450° degrees. Pour 4 or 5 packets of Earl Grey tea ground for steeping and roll the pork roast in the tea, coating all sides lightly. Roast until 140° (about 30 minutes for a 1.5 pound roast) and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The roast for this sandwich, though, was cold, but it need not be.

Turn the oven to broil

I took one hot dog bun. You could use a ciabatta or sourdough, too, but I used what came from Harvest Share. Spread some butter and sprinkle with garlic salt (or crush one clove of garlic and mix with the butter), slice parmesan cheese thinly and lay down on layer of parmesan, Put four stalks of fresh, young asparagus on each side and broil. Keep a close eye, you do not want it to burn. It took about 4 minutes to broil with the rack at the middle.

While the sandwich was broiling, I cut two slices of roast pork and mixed up a quick spread with chopped parsley, chopped red onion, and mayo in equal portions (about 1.5 TBSP of each) and seasoned with a bit of garlic salt and pepper. I spread it on one side, laid the pork on the other, put them together and had a delicious, fresh tasting sandwich.

The mayo helped bind all the flavors together. I like the aromatic flavor of the Earl Grey pork, the bite of the onions, the fresh and tender asparagus and the earth grace notes from the parmesan and parsley.

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Chicken & Spinach Sandwich

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Heat a cast iron skillet to medium with 1 TBSP of olive oil. Chop 2 TSBP of red onion and 2 of those baby yellow bell peppers. Add salt and pepper. Sauté until tender.

On a cast iron griddle or pan on another burner, toast a sandwich bun. I toasted it dry without butter or oil.

Meanwhile, cut one boneless chicken breast tenderloin into small pieces of about 1/2 inch square, salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook until done, (3 – 4 minutes), Add 1/2 cup chopped spinach or baby spinach, add a TBSP of mustard vinaigrette and put a lid on for two minutes to cook.

While the veggies and chicken are finishing, cut two slices of tomato and grate a bit of parmesan cheese, just enough to sprinkle over the sandwich.

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To assemble, spread some mayo on the top side of the bun and place two thin slices of tomato. On the bottom side of the bun, spread your cooked veggies and chicken and sprinkle grated parmesan over it.

Add salt and pepper.

This was delicious, the blend of textures, the crispy coated bread, the gooey parm, the slight crunch of the peppers, with the tender spinach and the freshness of the tomatoes. The flavors are full of freshness and umami. I used only a small bit of parm, but it was just enough to be creamy. The mustard vinaigrette finished it off perfectly with a bit of tang and bite.

Green Bean Sandwich

Green Bean Sandwich

Last month, my best friend and I stopped at Meat Cheese Bread for lunch and we each ordered a sandwich and then shared half of our sandwiches with each other. She had a pulled pork sandwich and I ordered a green bean sandwich, mainly out of curiosity. I mean, it sounded good, but I still wondered how green beans would fare as the star in a sandwich.

Extremely well. As good as her pulled pork sandwich was, it was still just a pulled pork sandwich. On the other hand, the green bean sandwich was a revelation. My budget does not run to dining out more than a few times a year, so if I wanted to have this delicious sandwich again, I would have to learn to make it myself.

Make Ahead

Bacon Jam

The first thing was learning to make bacon jam or relish. I read a dozen or more recipes, decided that I was not going to splurge on bourbon or maple syrup in order to save on sandwiches and came up with my own recipe without those ingredients. It may not be an exact replica, but it is delicious and it works. I could possibly add a bit more vinegar and be a little closer to the Meat Cheese Bread bacon relish since their version is not quite so thick. I am not too worried, though, because this sandwich turned out amazing and everything I hoped it would be.

Aioli

I also made up some aioli in advance. I cheated and made it with mayonnaise. I peeled 6 cloves of garlic and smashed them with the side of a knife. I sprinkled salt on them and let them rest for five minutes, coming back to mince them into small pieces. I stirred the garlic into 1 cup of mayonnaise and added the the juice of half of a fresh lemon squeezed. I mixed it all together, added 2 tsps of olive oil and stirred it in and put it away in a plastic container with a good lid. It will keep just as well as plain mayonnaise and will be a good spread of sandwiches or tasty added to some potatoes.

There were no ciabatta rolls when I went to the grocery store, so I bought some large hard rolls instead. This sandwich requires a roll with substance, one that will hold up and not get soggy when the egg yolk runs into it. The rolls I used are WinCo’s specialty and very affordable at 19 cents each.

Finally read to make sandwiches, I started by button a pot of water on the stove to boil, I filled it quite deeply with water because it needed to cover the eggs when I boiled them. While the water was heating up, I turned the broiler on the oven.

I snapped the vine end off 12 green beans and sliced a roll in half. I placed the halves of the roll on the top rack in the oven facing up toward the broiler coils.

One thing I thought I could improve on was the texture of the green beans. I thought they were just a bit too crisp and not quite done. I wanted crisp and crunchy but I wanted the flavor to taste done, not raw. To do that, I decided to blanch the green beans first. To save on pots and pans and time, I blanched them in the water for the soft-boiled eggs.

I dropped the green beans in the boiling water and counted out 60 seconds. I could have watched the clock, but 60 seconds is just long enough to get distracted and overcook the green beans. I didn’t want them cooked, just heated through so they lost their rawness. I pulled them out with tongs and set them aside and put 2 eggs in the boiling water, checking the clock. They needed to boil exactly five minutes for a perfect soft boil.

While they were boiling, I removed the now perfectly toasted buns from the oven and put them on a plate. I spread some aioli and bacon jam on one side and shaved off a few slices of parmesan.

After five minutes, I removed the pot of water from the burner and poured out the water, running cold water in the pot to cool the eggs so I could peel them. Meanwhile, I did not turn off the burner, instead I turned my stovetop fan up on high and used my electric coils to “grill” the green beans. I placed them directly on the coils and used my tongs to turn them and remove them  once they had a nice char. This worked very well and the beans were nice and crispy but not the least bit raw.

I placed them on the other half of the roll, laying down a bed of green beans. Then I peeled and sliced the soft-boiled eggs. They were perfect which meant the yolks were a bit runny which meant it was messy but that’s okay. I don’t know how you neatly slice soft-boiled eggs.  Using the side of the knife, I picked them off the cutting board and placed them on top of the green beans. I put a few shavings of parmesan on top and added just a bit of salt and pepper to the eggs.

They are photographed open, but I put the two halves together and pushed down just a bit. The yolk kind of held everything together and the flavors blended perfectly. There was the sweet and savory vinegary bacon jam, the creamy garlicky aioli, the fresh crispy green beans and the creamy, lush soft-boiled eggs with just a hint of the nutty parmesan all with a good, solid bread to absorb everything and hold it all together.

It was not identical to the restaurant sandwich, but the minor differences made it even better.

Pea Shoots with Red Onions and Radishes

Pea Shoots, Radishes and Red Onions

 

I took a handful of pea shoots and chopped off the tops, for the bottom half, I tore the leaves off, leaving out the stems. I laid them on a plate. With a mandoline, I sliced about 2 TBSP of red onion – very thin. I also sliced two gorgeous radishes thinly. I sprinkled the onions and radish slices on the pea shoots. I grated about 2 tsp of parmesan on top.

In a small bowl, I mixed 2 tsp of olive oil, juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp of dijon mustard. I added some cracked pepper, stirred and poured on the salad, tossing the dressing to mix it in.

This made a delicious, light salad with lots of bite. The sweet tang of onions, the fresh heat of radishes and the bright tanginess of the lemony, mustard  vinaigrette made for an explosion of flavor balanced by the delicious earthiness of the pea shoots.

 

Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna

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I seldom make lasagna. How seldom was brought home to me when I was washing out my food storage bins and discovered that my lasagna was past its expiration date. I had not realized pasta had an expiration date, so there you have it. That poor box of lasagna has been dragged through two moves and I still had not emptied it, so I decided to finish it off and actually make a pan of lasagna. Now, I didn’t happen to have ricotta or mozzarella on hand since I seldom buy specialty cheese as I don’t use them quickly enough and they spoil. So, I made do with substitutes that made a tasty but totally inauthentic lasagna.

But let’s work through it. First I started water boiling. When it began a rolling boil I added eight pieces of lasagna pasta. I also added 3 pieces of Italian Sausage right out of the freezer. I figured why dirty two pans…and if anything the sausage might add some flavor to the pasta.

I got out a rectangular baking dish that was about as wide as 2.5 pieces of lasagna and just a bit shorter than the pasta. I laid down three pieces of lasagna, the middle one overlapping the two outer pieces. I then thinly sliced one of the pieces of Italian sausage and laid it down over the pasta. Taking about 1/2 cup of cream cheese, I dotted cream cheese in the spaces between the sausage. I then layered finely chopped kale on top. I used one full stalk, removed the ribs, and then chopped the kale.

Then I laid down two more strips of lasagna for another layer. I took the other two Italian sausages and  removing the skins, I chopped them up in a bowl and added 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with jalapeños. I would have used fresh but didn’t happen to have any on hand. I mixed the sausage and tomatoes together and layered them on the pasta. On top of that I added a layer of black beans from a can, thoroughly rinsed in cold water.On top of that I added some sour cream which made a nice bed for the next layer of kale – using one more more stalk of kale finely chopped. I added a final layer of pasta and baked until done in a 350° oven. When it was done, I sprinkled some parmesan and some pepper jack cheese on top and broiled for just a few minutes to brown the cheese.

So, this made 12 servings which is why I don’t make lasagna very much. Luckily my friend came over and had some, too. It was delicious and easy to make and really did a good job of cleaning out some remnants in my fridge (cream cheese and sour cream). It was not too spicy, rich and flavorful.

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Kale Grapefruit Salad with Toasted Almonds and Parmesan

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Another ten minute salad, more or less, that is delicious and lovely to look at. Cut about 6 to 8 almonds in half and toast them in a dry skillet on medium high. With luck, you will be done with the rest of the salad by the time they are toasted in 8 minutes or so.

Supreme a grapefruit and reserve half the segments for use another time since you will only use half the grapefruit. Using your knife sweep the juice on your cutting board into a bowl. That’s about as much citrus as you need for the dressing. Clean and remove the ribs from 4 leaves of kale and slice thinly before chopping into small pieces. Add to the bowl with 1 tsp of walnut oil and about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Massage thoroughly. You really don’t need much oil since you are working it through the kale to soften every piece. When it is softened, place the grapefruit segments on top. The almonds are probably done, just tip them from the pan onto the top of the salad. Add a few slivers of parmesan on top, some fresh ground pepper and you’re done.

Sometimes I think you could put toasted almonds and parmesan on a 2 by 4 and it would taste good. But with fresh, hearty kale and juicy, sweet-tart grapefruit, it’s heavenly.

 

Steak and Watercress Salad

Steak & Watercress Salad

Tip Steak was on sale for $4.49/pound yesterday. Combining that with the sale on watercress, I was able to make this delicious salad for just over $4.00 which is a great price for steak and salad – particularly when it’s this tasty.

First I heated the skillet to medium and added 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I tossed on the tip steak and added some fresh ground black pepper and salt. I let it cook for about 3 minutes on one side, turned it and let it cook about 2 minutes on the other. This was a thin steak and I had to take care not to overcook it. I removed it to the cutting board and let it rest. After it rested, I cut it into strips. Resting is important to keep the juices in the steak – keeping it moist, but also preventing the juice from dripping all over and making your salad messy.

While the steak cook, I sliced of one slice of red onion and chopped it up, making about 2 TBSP of chopped red onion. When I removed the steak from the skillet, I put the onions in to cook. There was still plenty of oil left so I didn’t need to add more.

In a bowl, I added 1.5 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 TBSP of vinegar, the juice from 1 fresh lemon and fresh ground pepper and salt. I stirred it up and when the onions were done, I added them to this for a hearty and tart onion vinaigrette.

I rinsed the watercress, dried it and cut off the stems. I layered it on the platter, spread the slices of steak on top and then added the onion vinaigrette. I shaved a few pieces of parmesan on top to add a bit of mellow flavor.

It was delicious. The Worcestershire sauce in the vinaigrette toned down its tangy bite. That with the parm were a great balance to the dressing and the watercress while the beef was rich in flavor and very tender.

I decided to cost it out. The two main ingredients were only $2.65, but with the fixings for the dressing, etc. it came to $4.20 – more than I first thought, but still a great price for a delicious and fulfilling lunch.

$1.40 Steak
$1.25 Watercress
$0.06 Red Onion
$0.25 Olive Oil
$0.85 Lemon
$0.13 Worcestershire Sauce
$0.20 Parmesano Reggiano
$0.06 Vinegar
$4.20 Total

Roasted Garlic Tops & Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pears, Parmesan and Dried Beef

Roasted Garlic Tops & Salad

This takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. Turn your oven to broil. Rinse the garlic tops and put in a roasting pan with a bit of olive oil sprinkled on them and some kosher salt. Pop them in the oven and get moving, you have 10 minutes maximum to make the salad.

Start heating a dry pan on a medium burner. Chop some almonds and toss them on to toast.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel 5 fresh, raw asparagus into thin strips. Cut one half a pear and arrange along the side. Top with a few pieces of parmesan (I peeled them off with the peeler) and a few pieces of dried beef. All freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice from half a lemon, some olive juice and sprinkle on the toasted almonds.

Now grab those fresh garlic shoots and serve on the side with the salad.

Fresh Garlic tops

Like any roasted vegetable, fresh garlic shoots are a revelation. They are infused with garlicky goodness and will love a bit of lemon and salt. There’s such a tiny window in the year for this amazing dish that you should run to your local market and get some before they’re gone. The salad is a mix of the freshness of the asparagus with the sweet pears and tart lemon juice, the heartiness of the almonds and parmesan and the rich flavorful umami of the dried beef. It’s amazingly delicious.

Pea Shoots Salad

Pea Shoots Salad

Nothing says spring like some fresh pea shoots. They can be harvest after just a couple of weeks, far sooner than peas, so they are always an early harbinger of all the good fresh veggies that are soon to come. They are no more expensive than good lettuce and can be served fresh or cooked. For this simple salad, I chopped a handful of almonds and lightly toasted in a dry pan.

While the almonds toasted, I cleaned and lightly chopped about 12 pea shoots, pulling the big leaves off the stems and only using the stems from the tender tendrils at the top. I then sliced about 4 slices off a chunk of parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler. I added a few slices off the top of a green onion. I cut a lemon in half and squeezed some juice from half the lemon, added a few teaspoons of olive oil, some fresh ground pepper and salt.

The flavors are fresh and the mix of bright lemon tartness with the sweetness of pea shoots and the heartiness of toasted almonds and the bit of bite from the onions is irresistible.

Fresh Asparagus Salad

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I took six almonds, cut them in half and toasted on a small dry skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes or so. I shook the skillet frequently so they toasted on all sides.

I got out my bowl and fixed the salad right in the serving bowl. I gathered 8 stalks of fresh asparagus, parmesan cheese, a lemon and olive oil, salt and pepper.

Taking my vegetable peeler, I held the root end of the asparagus and ran the peeler down the asparagus, making thin ribbons. I sliced up three asparagus this way, put the ribbons in my bowl and, using the peeler, peeled off three thin sliced of parmesan cheese. Then I did it again with the remaining three asparagus, added a few more thin pieces of parmesan. I cut the lemon in half and squeezed some juice from one half and poured on about 1 tsp of olive oil. Added a bit of salt and pepper and tossed the toasted almonds on top. That was it. It’s got a fabulously bright and fresh springtime flavor and the toasted almonds and parmesan ground it with a bit of earthiness.