Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Power of Suggestion

In this world of total media coverage, unlimited Internet sources, and instant gratification, the power of suggestion is strong. Anything we see can be ours, or so we are told. I believe that it is true, at least as far as FoodNetwork is concerned. I proved it this week with an incredible sandwich that was featured on an episode of Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten.

I seldom see any of my favorite cooking shows when they first air. However, I do have the DVR of our Dish satellite set to record any new episodes and then watch them whenever is convenient. Sometime around Christmas, I caught up with Ina making an incredible looking Fresh Pea Soup and an even more tempting Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich to pair with it. The power of suggestion was strong. She said it was delicious, and I believed her. I had to try it for myself.

Finally, this week I collected the ingredients, clicked on the web to find the recipe, and prepared what I believe to be one of the best sandwiches I have ever made. Roasting the peppers brings out the natural sweetness; marinating in a balsamic vinaigrette heightens the flavor. Capers add a burst of salty goodness over the creamy herbed goat cheese, and adding fresh basil and thinly sliced red onion just takes it over the top. Of course, a sandwich is only as good as its bread, and the crunchy crust of a ciabatta gives way to the dense but airy loaf inside. It stands up well to this amazing veggie filling.

The power of suggestion is very strong with a Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich is On My Plate.

Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches from Barefoot Contessa

4 large red bell peppers, may substitute yellow
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 large ciabatta, halved horizontally
1 (11 ounce) garlic and herb goat cheese, at room temperature
8-10 large basil leaves
3 very thin slices red onion
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the peppers. Stir in the capers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom half of the loaf with the goat cheese. Add a layer of peppers and then a layer of basil leaves. Separate the onions into rings and spread out on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings. (Serves 4-6)

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