Dinner tonight was a sandwich.
But this was no casual, depthless, deli-counter affair. This was a grinder, hoagie, hero, and sub of Dagwood Bumstead proportions, one that belongs in the “dinner to serve guests” recipe box, one that will have you prepping for a sandwich like never before, with the result of a homemade sandwich like you’ve never experienced. But you should experience it. This sandwich has layers of flavor, with zest, sweetness, and a vegetal savor. It’s also vegetarian, and could easily be vegan with a few tweaks. Give yourself the hour to make this, from scratch, from start to finish, and you will have your reward many times over.
For the baguette (1 loaf):
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 T. yeast
1 T. sugar
½ t salt
1 ½ T oil (I used canola)
3 cups flour
For the aioli:
½ cup mayonnaise
2 ½ T minced garlic
2 ½ T lemon juice
For the black bean paste:
1 cup cooked black beans
1 T olive oil
¼ cup water
1 heaping T cumin
1 heaping T garlic powder
1 heaping T paprika
dash of salt
2 red bell peppers
2 T butter
½ medium yellow onion, sliced
4 large romaine lettuce leaves
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tomato, sliced
I’d suggest starting off this recipe with leftover or canned black beans. Otherwise, start your beans early enough in the day to have this sandwich for lunch or dinner. I usually just simmer one pot for a couple of hours instead of going through the soak-simmer-rinse-simmer business.
If you have yeast at home, begin with this recipe from Keep Home Simple:
I used half the recipe to make a single loaf, and I baked my bread for only about 25 minutes for a softer, squishier center. The crust was still crisp, but not sharp or brittle, but feel free to bake the baguette longer if you like a firmer texture to your bread core. One loaf will make three or four hefty sandwiches.
After your bread is in the oven (or your packaged baguette is sitting in your cupboard), start on the lemon-garlic aioli. Technically, an aioli is a sauce of garlic, lemon juice, egg yolk, and oil, but I skipped the yolk and oil in favor of a mayonnaise base. For one baguette I used about ½ cup of mayo with two heaping tablespoons each of minced garlic and lemon juice. Whisk these up together in a small bowl and let the sauce sit for the duration of the rest of your preparations to let the flavors blend togetherand mature properly.
Next, stick two red peppers into your convection oven (or full-sized if you don’t have a convection oven or have other things to roast at the same time). I quartered each pepper and laid the pieces out dry onto a baking sheet at 400 Fahrenheit. Flip these once every ten minutes or so to get the peel and flesh equally charred. You should keep these in the oven for half an hour, which is perfect if you’re waiting on the bread to bake.
Now it’s time to start your black bean paste. Take out a medium pot and plop in a cup of cooked beans. Add to this a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous splash of water. Heat the burner to medium. As the mixture heats, mash the beans with your stirring spoon. No need to get all the lumps out; the composite texture of mashed and chunky beans will add interest to the paste. Once this is satisfactorily smashed, add in a heaping tablespoon each of cumin, garlic powder, and paprika. Throw in a dash of salt, too, then adjust to taste (I usually like a stronger spice to my cooking, so I use about two tablespoons per ingredient in this step).
While this is heating—and are you checking your bread and flipping your peppers?—sizzle two tablespoons of butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Once the butter is frothing, throw in your onion slices. Cook just until slightly softened and fragrant. Too firm and the onions will overpower your other ingredients, and too soft and they’ll get lost. Take them out of the pot and let them drain on a paper towel once they’re done.
Finally, wash your lettuce leaves and grate your carrots, about four large leaves and a four handfuls of shredded carrots per sandwich. Slice up a tomato while you’re at it. (You can roast the tomato if you want a sweeter taste, but I left mine raw for a stronger vegetal flavor and texture variation.) Go ahead and take the peppers out of the oven at this point, and carefully slice them into 1/8th of an inch slivers.
To assemble your sandwich, start with the baguette on a cutting board. Cut the heel off each end of the baguette. Dip these in the aioli and smile hungrily to yourself while noshing on more carbs than you’d like to think you eat in a week. Conversely, save the ends of the bread for, I don’t know, stuffing or croutons or self-control. Slide your knife almost all the way through the middle of the loaf to make a substantial opening, like in a Subway sandwich. Spread the aioli on the bottom of the bread, and slather the bean dip on the opposite side. Now layer the peppers and onions onto the aioli side, and top with lettuce. Pack your carrots over the beans and use the tomato slices to hold the shreds in place. Finally, quick like a ninja bring the two sides of bread and their various toppings to meet each other, and slap your completed sandwich down on your cutting board to make sure it doesn’t slowly fall apart. Then cut the baguette into four- or five-inch slices depending on how long your loaf is. The goal is four equal sandwich sections. If something does fall off, either slip it back in or eat it dipped in more aioli. No shame. Serve the sections by themselves on a plate, standing proud and large, or with a nice piece of fruit on the side of each plate.
This is a bit of ajob for one sandwich, but if you use an entire baguette’s worth you will get at least three or four servings out of it. If you have guests or kids, I’d imagine that making two baguettes and 6-8 servings wouldn’t be too much. All in all, this is about how much work I’d put into a regular night of dinner making, and having an excellent homemade sandwich for dinner that’s all veggies and beans and an exciting sauce is so far up my alley the time is seriously worth it.
Serving size: 1sandwich (1/4 baguette)
Carbs: 97 g
Fat: 31 g
Protein: 39 g
Easy ways to cut down on calories:
1. Scoop out the middle of the baguette before assembling the sandwich (again, save leftover bread for croutons or stuffing or breadcrumbs).
2. Grill the onions or sauté them in a tiny bit of canola oil instead of butter—or roast in the same pan as the peppers!
3. Leave off or skimp on the aioli, although no strictness of calorie counting is worth avoiding this sauce altogether.
- Skip the aioli or use your favorite vegan mayo as a base instead. You could also use a white bean base and add the oil, lemon and garlic as the recipe calls for.
- Grill or sauté your onions in oil, not butter.