I am a fan of flat breads and pizzas that have sweetened, cooked onions on their base. It adds this mellow, lightly sweet taste to the dish which can then be complemented by a large variety of meats, vegetables and cheeses on the flat bread/pizza.
Inspired by that, combined with having just picked some yellow squash and zucchinis from a nearby farm, I decided to make some sandwiches which would be very Fall-inspired, warm and showcase the vegetables. We had some fresh ciabatta from the very good, local (!) Chabaso bakery: in fact, I was pretty pleased to note most of this dish was pretty local!
Here’s what I used this time around:
- 1 loaf whole wheat ciabatta, sliced
- Gruyere, sliced
- 2 large onions, chopped to get long strands
- Cream sherry
- Brown Sugar
- 2 small – medium zucchinis, chopped into thin slices
- 2 small – medium yellow squashes, chopped into thin slices
- 1 small butternut squash
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Basil leaves
Here is what I did:
- Prepare the butter nut squash
- Split the butternut squash into half (along the length) and scoop out the seeds
- Smear each open face with 1/2 tablespoon butter, sprinkle brown sugar generously on each face and then season with salt and the freshly ground pepper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F and roast the two halves face up for 30 minutes or until it has softened (You should be able to pierce easily with a fork)
- Take it out of the oven, and carefully (It’s going to be hot!) peel off the skin.
- Chop into slices that you can use on top of the sandwiches
- After you take the butternut squash of the over, lower the heat in it to 250F – we’ll use it for preparing the sandwiches (last step)
Note: one can also add garlic – but since this time I knew I was going to make open face sandwiches, I did not want garlic.
- Prepare the onions: you can start this while the butternut squash is roasting in the oven
- Saute the onion ‘strips’ in the olive oil on high heat and then on low heat.
- As the onions start turning translucent, add sherry and cook slowly on low heat. Keep stirring
- Taste once a while, and add brown sugar and stir it in if you’d like to make it sweeter.
- At the end, you should be left with slightly browned, soft, translucent onion strips in a thickened sherry sauce (Not too thick)
- Saute the squash and zucchini
- Prepare the sandwiches:
- Lightly butter one side of the sliced ciabatta bread
- Top with onions, and add a little of the remaining sherry-sauce on top (Not too much, it will soak the bread!)
- Sprinkle rosemary and if you like, some freshly ground black pepper
- Add the sliced cheese
- Put this in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has toasted
- Take the slices out of the oven, reduce the heat to 175F
- Top the slices with the basil leaves and your choice of topping: sliced cherry tomatoes, sauteed squash or sliced, roasted butternut squash
- Return to the oven for a few more minutes to keep warm
Note to self: I have to figure out a way to perhaps cook the butternut squash a bit more. Sarandipitea’s mother suggested broiling the sandwiches in the last step (after adding the vegetable topping, rather than using the oven at 250F). I could have also sauteed the butternut squash lightly (Although I can see that can be messy!)