Often when the kids are away on an overnight at a friends or for their visits with their Mom, I'll splurge a little and make something using a bit more expensive ingredients or ingredients we don't eat as often because the kids don't really like them. Many times, I've made Italian sandwiches for Steven and I using ingredients like prosciutto or coppa and fresh mozzarella or good quality provolone. This week, I planned ahead and did just that, but I went the extra mile and used home-made focaccia rolls, roasted red peppers and olive spread.
For the focaccia, I simply use my pizza dough recipe. When I make pizza dough, I just throw all the ingredients in my bread machine and set it on the "dough" setting. It does all the mixing & kneading for me. For the focaccia, once the dough was ready I divided the dough in half and put half in a zip-lock bag in the fridge for pizza tonight. Then I divided the remaining dough into quarters and formed them into flat rounds. I prepared a baking sheet with a coating of olive oil and a liberal sprinkling of salt (both Steven & I feel the dough is bland if it's not salted top & bottom). Place the dough rounds on the sheet so they are not touching. Brush with olive oil and any herbs you wish. For mine, I heated up some EVOO in a small sauce pan, then added a few cloves of sliced garlic and some dried oregano (I prefer fresh herbs, but this is what I had on hand). Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. The top and bottom of each roll should be a nice, golden brown. Set aside.
For the olive spread, I started with some olives I had chopped up into a tepenade a few days earlier. It consisted of garlic stuffed, sicilian style olives, pimento stuffed Spanish olives and ripe olives. To about 2 tbls. olive tepenade, I added a couple spoonfuls of mayo, 2 small cloves grated garlic, about 1 tbls. grated onion and a bit of EVOO just to thin it enough to spread easily.
If you've never roasted a red bell pepper before, it's amazingly easy. I put mine in a cast iron skillet. Drizzled on a bit of EVOO, then spread it with my hands so the pepper was fully coated. Placed in a cool oven (preheated just wasn't necessary, but you can if you want to) and turned it on to 425. Just let it roast until it's charred all over - you don't even have to turn it. The house smells heavenly while it's roasting, but do turn on a fan prior to opening the oven or your likely to set off your smoke alarm. When you remove the pepper from the oven, transfer it to a glass bowl and cover it tightly with saran wrap. Just set it aside and let it cool. Once it's cool you can peel the skin off very easily. Then remove the stem and seeds. Set it aside.
The Italian Sandwich
salami, thinly sliced
prosciutto, thinly sliced
fresh mozzarella, sliced
roasted red pepper
Split the focaccia rolls in two, horizontally. Spread bottom half with olive spread. Top with 3 or 4 slices salami and 2 slices prosciutto. Top with mozarella slices to taste. Top with fresh basil leaves and slices of roasted red pepper. Cover with top half of focaccia roll. Repeat until you have desired number of sandwiches. If you have a panini grill or other indoor grill, grill the sandwich until the cheese is melted and the sandwich is heated through. If you do not, you can put them in a cast iron skillet and top them with a 2nd, heavy skillet (or a couple of bricks). Turn over 1/2 way through or the bottoms will burn and the top half of the sandwich will be cold. Serve with rustic potato chips and ice cold beer or ale or a nice glass of Italian red wine. YUM!