Friday, September 24, 2010

The $119 Sandwich (or Martha's Pressed Picnic Sandwich)

Every morning I listen to the Bob and Sheri Radio Show. It's based out of Charlotte, NC, so I stream it on my computer. Because I work in a secluded office, I like to think they're my co-workers and we're having our morning chat. Bob and Sheri appeal to a large demographic of people, so during the "chat room" segment (8-9am), they have callers based on a different subject each day. A few days ago, they were talking about how low the new Martha Stewart shows ratings are, and asked anyone to call in if they watched. A man called in, who I would guess is in the 40-year-old range, and said that his wife watches it. He was home with her one day when she put it on, and said while he'd usually be against watching it, she made a sandwich and they couldn't stop drooling over it. They immediately went out to the grocery store to buy all of the ingredients and make the sandwich. The total bill? $119. Bob and Sheri asked if it was even worth it, and he said it was a great sandwich, but he wouldn't make it again for that price! 

I immediately went online and looked up the sandwich to find out what could possibly be driving up the price... I expected truffles, Gruy√®re and sliced steak. What I found was something very similar to a recipe I made and put on the blog ages ago - Mediterranean Vegetable Subs. I do realize that it would be easy to make this sandwich add up to $119 if you buy a pound of prosciutto, the finest salami, a gourmet olive tapenade, and fresh bunches of herbs, especially if you make this in the winter and peppers and herbs aren't in season. 

Luckily, I'm a savvy shopper, I grow my own herbs, and have a well stocked pantry, so I was able to make this sandwich at 1/10 of the price! Keep in mind, I didn't include the meat, but if you add 1/2 lb. of each salami and prosciutto, that should only add maybe another $10. Instead, I added a layer of fresh heirloom tomatoes. I also made my own olive paste, the amount I needed, much cheaper than purchasing it. 

So the $119 verdict? I loved the complex flavors this sandwich presented, from the sweet peppers and basil to the savory goat cheese and artichokes with a surprising kick from the cilantro. I really don't think the deli meat is necessary, but would add a nice salty touch to pair with the olive paste. I wouldn't pay $119 for this sandwich, but I would definitely make it again for my next picnic!

Tips and Trades:
-Rather than buy fresh herbs, try using herbed goat cheese on the sandwich. 
-If bell peppers are out of season or quite expensive, look for jarred bell peppers.
-This recipe calls for marinated artichokes, which I find cheaper than regular in small jars. If you can't find marinaded, toss the artichokes in the vinaigrette you make before putting them on the sandwich.
-Ciabatta is a tougher bread, and stands up to all of the ingredients on the sandwich. If you're not eating this immediately, be sure to use a bread with crust, like a baguette, because sliced bread will get soggy.

The $119 Sandwich (Pressed Picnic Sandwiches)

3 bell peppers
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. EVOO (I used 1 tbsp.)
Salt and pepper
1 loaf of rustic Italian bread (I used Ciabatta from the Whole Foods bakery)
1/2 c. prepared olive paste (recipe below)
8 oz. fresh goat cheese
8 oz. marinaded artichoke hearts
2 1/4 c. mixed herbs, such as parsley, cilantro and basil
1 heirloom tomato, sliced

Olive paste:
1/2 c. mixed olives (I used kalamatta and Spanish green)
2 tbsp. minced parsley
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp. EVOO
Salt and pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Add all olive paste ingredients to a food processor, pulse and run until a paste is created, add EVOO if necessary. Refrigerate until using.
Heat a broiler on high, place peppers directly under and broil until skin is charred, rotating as necessary. 
When all sides are blistered and charred, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam skins off.
Rest for 5 minutes, peel skins off and discard with seeds, slice peppers in half.
In a small dish, whisk together Dijon, balsamic, EVOO, salt and pepper.
Slice the bread loaf in half, rip out insides and reserve for another use (breadcrumbs or croutons).
Spread olive paste on one half of the bread, crumble goat cheese on top, then artichokes, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Drizzle with vinaigrette, add herbs and top, press down and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. 
Refrigerate until eating, at least 30 minutes, up a few hours. 


Anonymous said...

Sounds like that couple from the radio are irresponsible shoppers! I wonder where on earth they went shopping!

Tasha said...

I love sandwiches, but lunch meats have never really done it for me. This one with all its yummy components sounds absolutely amazing!

Kira said...

Sometimes veggie sandwiches can be a little lacking, but this one, with all of it's flavor, sounds delicious! And I can't believe that couple spent $119 on sandwich ingredients!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Oh wow that looks good!! $119, that's plain crazy talk! I spent that much yesterday for a family of 3 to eat for 2 weeks! I agree with you the meat isn't necessary. I love the artichokes on the sandwich, they look so good! I wish I had everything I needed to make this now. YUM!

Kelly said...

I don't think it's fair to criticize the sandwich like that (speaking to the callers not you). Obviously if you don't keep everything on hand anything can end up really expensive. (I think it's only fair to count the price of the part of the ingredient you are actually using in the recipe and that smart people find ways of making recipes that use the same ingredients so you can be savvy.)

Dawn said...

I'm making some sandwiches on Sunday...can't wait! I just need to find out what my friend likes. I haven't had a good sandwich in ages.

Joanne said...

That is crazy! I would NEVER spend that much money on a mere sandwich. But that's probably because I really think about every purchase I buy. To be honest, I like your version better.

Anonymous said...

As good as this sounds, I would walk right by if it were priced at $119.

Natalie said...

$119?? That's absolutely crazy! That's my grocery bill for about 2 1/2 weeks! Glad to see you made a much cheaper version, I liked your tips!