Saturday, August 11, 2012

Recipe: Cipollini Onion and Italian Meats Sandwich

An onion can make people cry, but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh. – Will Rogers

One delicious sandwich to go, please.
But many a vegetable has made me smile... these onions included. Cipollini onions are becoming quite prevalent in the grocery store as of late.That is a good thing. They’re not your average onion, by a long shot.

The cippolini onions.
Cipollini (“little onion” in Italian) are a small, thin skinned onion that has a higher than usual concentration of natural sugars. This makes them exceptional for caramelizing or roasting.

About a year ago President Choice brand here in Canada (Superstore) had a blue cheese and caramelized cipollini pizza that was to die for. Seriously. Sadly it was only in market for one of their “tests” and didn’t make it into steady production. Our loss…

These onions, when cooked, have none of the sharp onion taste of other members of the family. The sugars concentrate and they become amazingly sweet. Perfect for one part of an amazing sandwich, I believe.

The cipollini at the Superstore were marinated in balsamic vinegar, so not the same as roasted, but delicious none the less. I couldn’t resist building a sandwich around them.

My olive bar finds. Top left, clockwise: cipollini,
roasted red pepper, antipasti chopped veggies.
I purchased my cipollini, antipasti and red pepper “bulk” at the Superstore. The olive bar in the larger stores certainly has its uses… It’s far more cost effective than buying jars of what they offer. You purchase only the amount you need. 

Here’s an example. Usually antipasti comes in a 500 ml jar. What on earth do you do with the rest? This recipe only takes half a cup! I have no idea why more grocers don’t allow shoppers to package their own amounts of commodities.

This will make me sound old and crotchety, but so be it. I remember when Sobeys here in the South End of Halifax (in the little crappy student grocery store) used to sell frozen shrimp and scallops in bins. They may have had fish filets in bins, too. You could pop open the lid and scoop out what you wanted. What an idea, eh?

Oh well, dream on. They can make more money by forcing consumers to buy predetermined sizes of products. Since I’m talking about Sobeys, here’s one that really cheeses me off. They sell frozen shrimp in 340 g bags. 340 gram!!! Have you ever seen a recipe that calls for 3/4 lb of shrimp?

That’s why I buy mine at the Superstore. They sell shrimp by 454 g (1 lb) bags. But I digress… There are no shrimp in this sandwich.

But  I was raving about the cost of things. And, sadly this sandwich is not a cheap venture. I remember when sandwiches used to be affordable. All in this one was $25. For four pieces…. 

And they’re predicting that grocery costs will be going up 4% because of the US midwest drought. Hold on your your hats folks. 

I hope that you put in a garden of your own this year. It’s going to be a challenge to try to bring you (and me) affordable meals over the next many months.

The reason I made this sandwich is because we had a late afternoon house viewing (potential purchaser) that stretched over mealtime. Fingers crossed for an offer!!!

One of the things that we’re hoping is that we purchase a place that will have room for a garden. That way you and I can learn together how to become a bit more self-reliant. And learn how to weed, and shoo away deer and birds as well...

Cipollini Onion and Italian Meats Sandwich
Prep: 10 min  |  Press: 1 hour  |  Serves 4
9x9 loaf ciabatta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch basil
150 g roasted red pepper
200 g sliced mortadella ham
200 g sliced calabrese salami
16 marinated cipollini onions
200 g provolone cheese, sliced
100 g prepared antipasti chopped vegetables

Slice the ciabatta in half. Divide the mayonnaise between each half and spread. If you like more mayonnaise feel free to adjust the amount.

Layer each half of the bread with whole basil leaves. Cover it. It may seem like a lot but it’s not.

On the bottom half add all the roasted sweet red pepper. Then the mortadella ham and the calabrese salami.

On top of the calabrese add the cipollini onions. (Before doing so flatten them a bit with a knife or your thumb, just to break them up.

Then add the provolone cheese. On top of the cheese spread the antipasti. Close the sandwich up, wrap well and press under a good weight for 1 hour.

I find a large stone mortar and pestle works wonderfully for a weight.
Slice into four pieces and serve!


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