Monday, June 10, 2013

Portobello and ricotta open-faced sandwich (vegetarian)

I cannot sing high enough praises for this sandwich. I don't know what to tell you -- all of a sudden one day I had a stroke of genius and it all just fell together as I assembled each facet individually. It's creamy, sweet, acidic, meaty, and cheesy -- all the best things known to man! And perhaps the best thing about it is it's completely meat-free, yet filling enough to satiate even my most carnivorous guests. Also, for the grain-free out there, the bread isn't all that necessary to the amazing combination of flavors; use the tofu slices as bread, and you can join in on the fun, too!

The sandwich is made up of a base of fresh rosemary bread slathered in a ricotta-parmesan spread, topped with fried tofu slices, sautéed portobello mushroom, and caramelized onions. The unifying flavors are fresh basil and red balsamic vinegar. I hope your mouth is watering as much as mine is right now! I'm definitely drooling over here, and I just ate this a few hours ago. Send help!

Every time I make this I remember that it might be the most delicious thing I've ever eaten, and it seems to go over extremely well with whomever I end up serving it to... at least I'm pretty sure it does -- their praise can tend to get muted out by the angel chorus of flavors going on in my mouth at the time. I'm not kidding.

Tonight, I served this with a side of savoy cabbage and apple slaw (the subject of my next blog post) as an early Father's day celebration, but honestly, I could eat this alone, and preferably for the next several months if possible! Seriously, send help! Or an endless supply of portobello mushrooms; either will suffice!

Portobello and ricotta open-faced sandwich

serves 4
1 block extra firm organic tofu
5 large portobello mushroom caps
1 yellow onion
1 loaf rosemary bread
1.5 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
fresh or dried basil leaves
red balsamic vinegar
smoked paprika
black pepper
sea salt 

Combine ricotta, parmesan, and Ranch dressing in a medium bowl. Season with black pepper and smoked paprika. Fold in sliced basil leaves. Set aside (it will be hard if you snuck a taste!) and allow flavors to mingle.

Slice tofu into thin rectangles about 1/3" thick. Rub each side with sea salt and fry in a non-stick pan with a generous amount of oil until golden. Set on a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with smoked paprika.

Slice onion and thinly and sautée slowly with oil until golden and caramelized. Season with salt and black pepper and add remaining sliced basil until wilted. Set aside.

Slice portobello mushrooms into hearty 1/2 inch slices, and allow to sautée with oil until dark brown and soft all the way through. Season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and toss with 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (if your vinegar is thick and syrupy sweet) or 1 Tbsp (if your vinegar isn't sweetened) and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. 

Toast rosemary bread to desired toastiness. I like to allow my guests to construct the sandwich themselves, starting with a base of bread, topped with the ricotta spread, tofu slices, mushrooms, and onions. Enjoy the impending bursts of pleasure in your mouth. You're welcome!

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