Great Make-Ahead Sandwich
Have I mentioned that beef is my last choice for animal protein? Give me fish or chicken first, please. However, I must admit, when I make a variety of sandwiches for a crowd, this one calls my name. I have even put a wedge of this aside before putting it on the table, so I can be sure that I get a piece.
Good For a Crowd or Scale Down for One
You can make this sandwich for a crowd if we ever get be to be socially close again. Or make it for dinner and have leftovers for lunch the next day. It keeps well, carefully wrapped and refrigerated, for about a day. For those who live alone, you can just scale it down and make a version using a good deli bun instead of a large loaf of bread. Alter the bread choice according to diet and personal preference. It should be firm bread, not too crusty, otherwise the sandwich will mush together and/or fall apart.
I modify this according to who is joining me for dinner or lunch. Some people don’t like roasted red peppers (can’t understand this myself), so I substitute juicy, fresh tomatoes. You probably want one or the other, not both. I put both tomatoes and roasted red peppers on once, but everything slid around too much. It made it difficult to keep the ingredients corralled in the sandwich when trying to take a bite.
Prep veggies ahead so ingredients are not dripping with moisture. Wash and slice tomatoes, drain and pull apart the red peppers and sop up moisture with paper towels. Prep whatever type of lettuce you would like by washing, drying. Crunchy shredded iceberg is good, but so is leaf lettuce, mesclun, or arugula. I slice the crunchy lettuce types, but leafy lettuces are great if left whole. Mix the yummy pesto spread by combining mayonnaise, pesto, and lemon juice.
Scrape Out the Middle
Use your fingers, a fork, a grapefruit spoon or whatever you like to pull out most of the center of bread. Scrape around the outer rim until you have about 3/4-inch edge around the outside of the loaf. I make the edge somewhat smaller, maybe 1/2- inch on buns. You can whirl the scrapings in a food processor to make crumbs and freeze them for future use.
Line up the bread halves next to each other. Place a large dollop or two of the pesto mixture on each half and spread it around to cover each section.
Fill the inside of the bottom half with sliced beef and then layer the tomatoes or roasted red peppers on top. Put lettuce all over the inside of the top half, then place feta on top. Spread it out and tamp it down. I always want to add some freshly ground pepper on top, but often forget. No need for salt since the feta provides enough.
The Tricky Part
Now, the trickiest part is to get those two halves together. It usually works best to flip the bottom half over on top of the crumbly cheese, rather than vice versa. You can, of course, layer and assemble the ingredients any way you like. I know that this method works for me without too much hassle. You can see there are a few stray crumbs of feta, but not many.
Serve with potato salad (see recipe for Lemon Rosemary Potato Salad), chips and pickles, or simply sliced fruit or vegetables. Wrap the sandwich in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate it if you are not going to eat it right away.
Pesto Beef Sandwich
- 1 – 1 1/4 lbs. thinly sliced deli roast beef
- 1 round or oblong loaf unsliced deli bread or 6-8 hearty buns
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1 jar roasted red peppers, (7 ounces) drained well -or-
- 2 large fresh tomatoes, sliced
- Lettuce leaves or about 3 cups sliced iceberg
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Pepper to taste
It is best to use a firm bread or buns, so the sandwich doesn’t fall apart when eating. Slice bread or buns in half horizontally. Using a fork or fingers, scrape and pull out center of bread. Leave about a 3/4-inch shell around the outside. You can pulse the bread pieces in a food processor and freeze them for later use as breadcrumbs.
Combine mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice and zest in small bowl; stir to thoroughly combine.
Open loaf or buns to expose cut sides. Spread pesto mixture on cut surfaces of both halves. Layer roast beef, roasted peppers or tomatoes on bottom half loaf or buns. Layer lettuce and feta cheese on upper half, pressing down to fit. Gently flip bottom half up and over onto top half. Flip loaf/buns right side up.
Cut into 8 wedges, if making a large loaf and serve simply as is or with chips and fresh fruit. These are also great with potato salad and/or fresh green beans. If not serving immediately, wrap in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Makes 8 Servings