• Mediterranean Vegetarian Wrap

    I have never been a sandwich fan.  I don’t know why, probably because I associate sandwiches with processed lunchmeats that I’ve never liked.  My younger sister used to love bologna; my older sister loved liverwurst.  They both made me gag.  Still do, actually.  But this wrap — this is entirely different.  This changes my perception of sandwiches.

    I was cooking for a client who was having a gathering at her house.  She wanted upscale sandwiches, salads and desserts — casual yet elegant.  For a menu, we decided on curried chicken salad wraps (which I’ll blog about another time — this is another sandwich that has made its way onto my “love” list); ham, brie and apple slices with honey and Dijon; and a few others.  And then, shortly before the event, she remembered several of her guests are vegetarians.  I had to think quickly. What flavors do I like that might work in a wrap?  This is what I came up with.  It’s nothing ingenious.  But it is delicious, easy, and full of good-for-you vegetables and fresh, vibrant flavors.  I think I could eat this every day without getting tired of it.

    You might already have some of these ingredients in your pantry, which is always a plus.  Most of these were already in mind (I’m not endorsing these brands) — a jar of roasted red peppers, a can of artichoke hearts, black olives, a red onion, original hummus (homemade would be even better but I wanted this to be a quick recipe), feta cheese, greens, and wheat wraps.  (When you buy your wraps, check the ingredient labels.  Buy the ones with the LEAST amount of obscure ingredients.  The ingredient list on some of the wraps I looked at was frighteningly long.  Frightening!  One of these days I’ll do a blog on making your own wraps, but that’s not for today.  Today’s about quick and easy.)

    The only part of this sandwich that takes any time at all is caramelizing the onions, but this can be done ahead of time, even the night before.  Or even better, if you make something else during the week with caramelized onions, like my Kale and Wild Rice Salad with Miso Ginger Dressing, make some extra and store in an airtight container in your fridge.  Then this wrap is super quick!

    Slice the onions thinly and put in a pan with some olive oil over medium heat.  And let them cook down, stirring occasionally.  It will take at least 30 minutes for them to caramelize.

    When they get soft (not burned on the edges, but browned — keep that heat no higher than medium — and be patient!). They become sweet, and oh so good.  I made this wrap once without the caramelized onions — not the same.  Once they’re done, you’re ready to wrap.

    Spread some hummus on a wrap; top with strips of roasted red peppers, quartered artichoke hearts, a couple black olives, caramelized onion, and feta cheese.  I put these in a horizontal line across the middle of the wrap.  And then top with your choice of greens.

    Fold the sides in first, maybe two inches on each side.  Then fold the bottom part, the part closest to you, up and over the mound of filling.  Kind of tuck it in to make it tight and then continue rolling.  With the seam on the bottom, give it a slight push to seal the seam.  Then slice.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Mediterranean flavors — they’re so bright and vibrant and so delicious — it’s easy to forget it’s good for you.

    Ingredients:
    1 small jar of roasted red peppers, sliced
    1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
    a handful of black olives (I prefer Kalamata)
    1 original hummus
    1 feta cheese
    1 red onion
    greens
    olive oil
    salt and pepper
    4 whole wheat wraps

    Instructions
    Slice the onion. Heat a pan over medium heat, then add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Allow cooking down and caramelizing for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Drain the red peppers and artichokes well so your sandwich isn’t soggy.Lay out wraps. Spread with hummus. Place some of the caramelized onions, the red pepper strips, the artichoke hearts, black olives and the feta cheese in a horizontal line across the wrap. Top with greens. Fold in sides first. Then fold the bottom half, the part closest to you, up and over the stuffing, tucking in as securely as possible. Continue rolling. Then, with seam at the bottom, give a slight push to seal the seam.

  • Semi Difficult Pre-Meal Dish

    Who doesn’t like stabbing things with a toothpick?  Wait?  What?  That’s just me?  Seriously, that’s pretty much all you have to do — a little bit of slicing and dicing and then assemble on skewers.  While you’re doing that, you reduce your balsamic vinegar, which is the only cooking involved.  Or, to make it even easier, you could buy a bottle of balsamic glaze, usually found in the supermarket in the aisle with the vinegars.  But I say, why spend money on a bottle of reduction when you probably already have a bottle of balsamic vinegar in your cupboard that you can reduce yourself?  It’s easy to do, and it only takes one little pan.

    To make the balsamic reduction or glaze, put one cup of balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pan or a small non-stick frying pan.  Heat it over medium heat.  You want the heat high enough that the liquid bubbles softly but not so high that it bubbles furiously.  Let it bubble for, maybe, eight to ten minutes.  A better guide than time is to make note of the level of the liquid in the pan before you heat it, and then watch until it reduces to about half.  It’s a little tricky because you can’t tell how thick your glaze will be until it has had time to cool, and if it reduces too much, it can burn.  So it’s important to watch the level.  Once it has reduced by about half, let it cool and then check the consistency.  It should be syrupy, so you can drizzle it on the skewers without it running.

    Here’s a hint:  it’s always easier to let the mixture cool, realize  it’s not thick enough, and put it back on the heat to reduce a little more than to let it go too far and burn it.

    You will have more balsamic than you need, but you can keep it in an airtight container for future use, like on a caprese salad, tomato slices, bruschetta, homemade margarita pizza, or lots of other applications.

    Other than that, you’re just slicing the proscuitto; dicing the roasted red pepper and tearing off basil leaves.  Then assemble on the skewers.  Because I’m one of those A-type personalities, I like to assemble in a particular order:  first the prosciutto, then the roasted red pepper, then the olive, then the mozzarella, then the basil and last the tomato at the end.  Why do I insist on this order, you ask?  Because when a guest takes the first bite (the tomato, basil and cheese), it’s like a caprese salad.  Then the next bite is yummy antipasto flavors.  I suppose you can assemble it in the order that you like.  Sigh.  I’ll be OK.

    Last, sprinkle with salt (I prefer sea salt for this), fresh cracked pepper, a drizzle of olive oil if you like, and the drizzle of balsamic (use a spoon and just wave it above the plate of skewers).  You can assemble the skewers ahead of time, but add the salt and pepper and drizzles just before serving.

    To make these easy antipasto appetizers vegetarian or vegan, omit the meat (or the meat and the cheese) and substitute quartered artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, and/or green olives.

    Let me know if you try them — and how quickly they disappear from the plate!

    Ingredients:

    • 4 Slices of prosciutto
    • 1 Roasted red pepper (jarred)
    • 20 Black olives (I prefer kalamata)
    • 20 Bocconcini Mozzarella Balls (about the size of grape tomatoes)
    • 1 Small package of bail
    • 20 Grape tomatoes
    • 1 Cup balsamic vinegar
    • Olive oil, to drizzle (optional)
    • Salt (I prefer sea salt)
    • Pepper, freshly cracked

    Notes
    To make this easy antipasto appetizer vegetarian (or vegan), omit the meat (or the meat and cheese) and substitute quartered artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, and/or green olives.
    A general rule of thumb for serving hors d’oeuvres such as these is to plan on one to two per person.