Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Open-faced sandwich appetizer

I don't know about you, but I always like to try something new when I'm entertaining. Changing things up - just a little - makes it fun for me.

Easter Sunday meant dinner for 17 and although I prepared the usual ham, sausage, kraut, potatoes, and vegetables, I decided to have a little fun and try out a few new recipes. My guests have learned that they risk encountering a "Julie's Surprise" when they visit. I've had plenty of disasters - which is how the term "Julie's Surprise" originally came to be. But over the years I like to think I've improved a bit and maybe even gotten a little bit smarter.

This year, for example, I dispensed with the tried-and-true broccoli casserole, and included a tasty Brussels Sprouts dish, and another featuring fresh green beans. I'll share those recipes in the coming weeks.

But today I'll start with an appetizer.

This month's MORE Magazine (April, 2010) has a whole section on sandwiches. Some of them sounded wonderful and I'm eager to try them out. When I was trying to come up with my Easter menu, I knew I needed something new on my appetizer table, and I remembered the MORE article. I pulled it up and realized, belatedly, that although the PLT Sandwich was photographed open-faced, the recipe called for it to be a traditional - 2 bread - sandwich. No problem, I decided. I'd just have to adapt.

I did. And the results were terrific!

I made two versions. One all vegetarian, one with pancetta (the "P" in MORE's PLT). The tomatoes are wonderful when roasted, so do take the time to prepare these. I roasted tomatoes and my mixed vegetables the day before Easter and spread them cold over the toasted bread.

Open Faced Sandwich Appetizers

1 double-pack of fresh mini-loaves, sliced. (Buying fresh-baked bread from the grocery store makes things super-easy. I buy the two-loaf pack and ask the bakers to slice it for me. As you can tell, I got these two loaves at the fabulous price of 99 cents. You can't beat that.)

12 (give or take) plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 yellow pepper, sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
1 green pepper, same
1 red pepper, same
6 large white mushrooms, sliced into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 purple onion, sliced
2 healthy handfuls of arugula

I roasted my tomatoes separately - drizzling a little olive oil on them, sprinkling them with salt and then baking in a 350 degree oven for about an hour and a half until the tomatoes shriveled and turned a little brown. I used parchment paper to keep them from sticking and this was a really good move (MORE suggested it).

I placed the other, sliced veggies in a shallow roasting pan and drizzled these with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt, as well. I actually use this maneuver fairly often. We love roasted veggies in this house and use them on everything. This time for an appetizer, but sometimes we use them as an easy and delicious side dish. Roast these in the same oven for about an hour and a half as well. They may take a bit longer. When the peppers are soft and the onions begin to brown, they're done.

Toast your bread by placing it in a single layer and baking it in the oven. Here's where I would change my method in the future. I baked these until slightly brown - about 12 minutes. Going forward, I think I would toast them for only about 4 - 6 minutes. Mine were *crispy* - and although that wasn't a bad thing, I think I'd like them a bit better with a little less crunch.

When the bread is toasted, coat with mayo, rip up some arugula, pat into place. Follow up with the roasted tomatoes and vegetables. Return the open-faced sandwiches to the oven and bake for about 6 - 8 minutes (see why I shouldn't have toasted so vigorously earlier?) and when hot, remove from oven and serve immediately.

I made a meat version with pancetta as well. I baked the pancetta separately for about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and also chilled it before using. On the pancetta sandwiches, I didn't use the mixed veggies. I just topped the arugula/tomato sandwich with that tiny piece of "Italian bacon."

These were absolutely great. My guests enjoyed them and my kids told me to definitely make them again!

More next time!


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  1. Sign me up for this "Julie's Surprise"! LOL.
    This looks absolutely delicious! Both the veggies
    and the pancetta -- YUM!

  2. This DOES sound good. I love the roasted tomatoes on this sandwich. And it looks pretty on a table, too!


  3. Good morning Jenn and Elizabeth! These were really delicious and I'll definitely make them again. Not even necessarily just for parties. I think this is a good snack to have around the house, too.

  4. Julie's surprise. Invite me for dinner anytime. You were right. Your surprise looks like my Crisp Toasts topped with yummies!


  5. Oh, baby! I'm on board with this. Roasted veggies are a fantastic treat, especially in the spring and summer -- so much color and a great way to cut calories without cutting flavor. That said, I would be the one lunging across the table for the J surprises with the sizzling pancetta. :)

    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
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  6. Hey, Juju, Scott, Avery, and Cleo - thanks for stopping by. I confess to being nuts about veggies. Fortunately, most of my family is as well. I love experimenting with the different flavors, textures, and colors. Thanks for all your comments and you're all welcome anytime!

  7. I love roasted veggies, so this sounds right up my alley. I bet kids would eat their veggies this way, too. The next time I have company, I think they're going to see these!

    ~ Krista

  8. Julie julie julie... repeat after me...

    Brussels Sprouts... Always a mistake

    Bacon (or if you insist on the fancy word, pancetta)... Always the right choice

  9. Krista - as long as you don't over-toast the way I did, I think your guests will love these. My guests did - even with the crunch-factor.

    LOL - Brussels Sprouts get a bad rap! They're delicious *and* good for you! But you're right about one thing. Whenever we've blogged about Brussels Sprouts here, our comments/hits go *way* down. Maybe I'll reconsider that post ... *grin*