Hot Sandwiches For A Cold Winter Afternoon

[The post below first appeared in India Currents magazine. This is my original unedited, longer version. Enjoy!]

Sour dough with garden burger and more
Grilled veggie burger on Sour dough with Pepper Jack cheese

I looked outside through my kitchen window at the cloudy cold day. I remembered the vegetable sandwiches mom would make for us, she would smear 2 slices of bread with butter and add the vegetable of the day – spicy beans or hot chole, or potato fry  in between and toasted it on a hot skillet. It tasted awesome.

“Want to get a Hot sandwich break” I said my husband.
He jumped at the offer. As we were driving trying to figure out the best places that made a good sandwich – TOGOs, nah! Quiznos –like it but been there too many times. I asked him what he wants, he said “your chutney sandwich” – toasted warm wheat bread spread with spicy homemade tomato chutney, layered with pepper jack cheese, warm sautéed onions and bell peppers, a layer of grilled chicken…

A   little factoid on the origin of a sandwich. The origin takes us to a small town of Sandwich in England, where the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu was a big gambler. His addiction to gambling gave him very little time to eat, therefore he would ask the waiter to fix him some meat between two pieces of bread and thus a “Sandwich” was born.

So pull out your pannini maker, sandwich press from that “lost” corner shelf in your kitchen and make some Hot Sandwiches. You can use white bread, French bread, wheat bread, Dutch roll, foccaicia,

My favorite is a toasty foccaccia smeared with pesto and layered with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced vine ripe tomatoes sprinkled with salt and fresh pepper, and   fresh basil leaves.

1. Pesto Pizzazz
Bread – 4 slices
Butter – For spreading
Pesto Sauce – 2 Tbsp
Fresh Mozzarella Slices -2- 4
Vine Ripe tomatoes – 8 slices
Fresh Basil Leaves – 6
Spread the two sides of bread with butter and add the  pesto sauce on the two slices of the bread and layer them with the cheese, tomatoes and basil and place the other two slices on top of each bread and place the 2 sandwiches in a toaster oven till the cheese slightly melts and the bread is toasted.

2. Minty Aloo
Bread -4
Butter – for spreading
Mint Chutney – 2 Tbsp
Potato Mixture: Mash a cooked russet potato, add chaat masala(1/2 tsp, cayenne pepper, salt to taste and chopped fresh cilantro (1 Tbsp). Set aside.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese – 1/3 cup

Spread butter on the both sides of bread slices. Now spread the mint chutney on one side of each slice. Spread the potato mixture on 2 slices with mint, Sprinkle the cheddar on the potato mixture. Place the other 2 bread slices with mint chutney on top of the cheese. Place the whole sandwich on a hot skillet and toast both sides , until the cheese begin s to melt.

Spicy Tomato Chutney Spread
Oil – 1 Tbsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Cayenne Pepper- 1-2 tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Crushed Tomato – 1 can
Brown Sugar – ½ tsp
Fenugreek Powder – ½ tsp (seeds roasted an powdered)
Salt – To taste

Heat Oil in a nonstick saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add asafetida, cayenne, turmeric and the tomatoes. Let it simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, keep stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the salt, brown sugar and fenugreek powder and let it simmer for a few more minutes until the oil rises to the sides. Check seasoning and let it cool and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This spread is great for sandwiches, chapatti rolls and burritos.

3. Two Hot Tomatar
Bread – 4 slices
Spicy Tomato Chutney – 2 tbsp
Pepper Jack Cheese – 2 slices ( sandwich slice)
Mushroom Mixture
Olive Oil – 1 tsp
Crimini Mushrooms – 5 sliced
Bell Pepper – 1 small sliced thin strips
Garlic -1 chopped fine
Red wine – 2 Tbsp
Salt – to taste
Heat oil in a pan add garlic, mushrooms and bell peppers and add the wine and salt. Saute until the mushrooms are cooked and the wine is reduced. Set aside.

Spread the Spicy tomato chutney on all the 4 slices

Mint Chutney

Fresh Mint Leaves – 1 cup packed
Green Chillies – 1
Shallots – 1
Lime Juice – 1 Tbsp
Salt – To taste
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Grind all the ingredients together to a smooth paste and check seasoning. Keep in an airtight container.

Pesto Sandwich
Pesto Sandwich

Pesto Sauce

Fresh Basil Leaves – 2 cups packed
Pine Nuts – 1/3 cup
Garlic Cloves – 3 chopped
Parmesan Cheese – 1/2 cup
Salt and Pepper – To taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 cup

Place the pine nuts and garlic and pulse it tille the pinenuts are chopped fine. Add the basil leaves and pulse to blend. Now as you blend slowly drizzle the oilve oil into the basil mixture. Stop and scrape the sides and add the parmesan cheese. Blend again to a smooth paste. Place the sauce in an airtight container and drizzle some olive oil to avoid discoloration.

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