Veggie Sandwich, Ho! Cremini Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers, and Feta on Ciabatta Bread

Today on Serious Eats: Three-ingredient Banana, Honey, and Peanut Butter Ice Cream. It’s divine, and I kind of can’t believe it worked so well.

If you’re looking for a treat this Valentine’s Day, a blog called Love and Olive Oil recently featured a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles. I made ‘em for a Super Bowl party yesterday, and they’re as good as they sound.

Buying seasonal produce is a vital tenet of healthy, inexpensive cooking. However, come February, after months of eating root vegetables and citrus fruit, I think it’s okay to crave a bell pepper. And if that bell pepper comes roasted and layered with cheese and artisan-y bread, all the better.

I’ve been pining for a roasted veggie sandwich since the beginning of time (note: October), and the premiere of Lost seemed as good a special occasion as any. So, while the Husband-Elect obsessed over alternate realities and (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) Juliet’s 47th death scene, I got a-roastin’. Within 30 or 40 minutes, I had Cremini Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers, and Feta on Ciabatta Bread - two savory, cheesy, café-caliber sandwiches, made for a third of what they would cost at the actual café.

Of course, whipping up a roasted veggie sandwich out of season doesn't automatically lends itself to frugality. Thus, a little financial creativity was necessary. First, I found buying a large ciabatta roll and cutting my own sandwich slices was much cheaper than purchasing an entire loaf, which would have gone bad in a few days.

Second, along the same lines, shelling out $1.89 for eight ounces of cremini mushrooms was waaaay less expensive than paying $3.25 for two medium-sized portabellas, which all told, would yield only about six ounces of edible fungus.

Finally and fortunately, the bell peppers were on sale. They were imported from Mars, but they were on sale. Since they were to be roasted, the dearth of end-of-summer flavor wouldn't matter as much (hopefully).

The sandwiches were triumphant, and all told, ran around $2.25 each. The calorie count hovered a little under 400, with about 11 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. Not too shabby for August cooking in an arctic February. I might even do it again next week. (Or not. I think red bells go back up to $5 each now.)

Readers, how about you? Are you craving any summer foods right now? What do you cook to remind yourself of warmer days?

If you like this recipe, you might also like:

Cremini Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers, and Feta on Ciabatta Bread
Serves 2

1 red bell pepper (or a few jarred roasted red peppers)
Huge ciabatta roll, about the size of 4 pieces of sandwich bread
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 (8-ounce) package cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped into 1/4-inch slices
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A few pinches fresh thyme
3 tablespoons reduced-fat crumbled feta

NOTE: If roasting your own pepper, you can do it while everything else is cooking, and it should time out pretty well. First, preheat your broiler. Wash and dry bell pepper, taking care to peel off any stickers. Place pepper on a baking pan or broiler pan. Broil, turning every 2 to 3 minutes (with tongs), until all sides of the pepper are charred and black. Once finished, remove pepper from broiler and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl. Let is sit for a few minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle. Cut off top and remove seeds. Peel charred skin away from flesh. Slice pepper into three or four large strips.

1) Heat a large pan over medium-high. Using a serrated knife, thinly slice the top and bottom crust off the ciabatta roll. (Save sliced bits for breadcrumbs.) Slice the ciabatta roll into four thin pieces of sandwich bread. Brush one side of each piece with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Place oil-side down on hot pan. Heat until golden.

2) Once golden, remove bread from pan and on to plate. On their untoasted sides, sprinkle 2 pieces of bread each with 1 1/2 tablespoons feta. Set aside.

3) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once mushrooms have released their moisture, add thyme. Continue cooking until all moisture has evaporated, stirring frequently.

4) When mushrooms are finished, immediately divide them between the sandwiches, placing them directly on top of the feta. Layer red peppers on top of mushrooms. Top with other piece of bread. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
379 calories, 11.4 g fat, 4.7 g fiber, $2.14

Note: calculations will vary, depending on the size of your roll. Figure about 1 to 2 ounces for each slice of bread, though. My numbers are for four 1 ½ oz. slices.

1 red bell pepper: 43 calories, 0.5 g fat, 3.4 g fiber, $1.09
Huge ciabatta roll: 442 calories, 4.8 g fat, 2.9 g fiber, $0.50
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.12
1 (8-ounce) package cremini (baby bella) mushrooms: 100 calories, 0.5 g fat, 2.7 g fiber, $1.89
Kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
A few pinches fresh thyme: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.15
3 tablespoons reduced-fat crumbled feta: 53 calories, 3.4 g fat, 0.4 g fiber, $0.49
TOTAL: 757 calories, 22.7 g fat, 9.4 g fiber, $4.27
PER SERVING (TOTAL/2): 379 calories, 11.4 g fat, 4.7 g fiber, $2.14