Monday, May 25, 2009

More than a Sandwich: Grilled Veggie Stacker with Sriracha Spread on Gluten-Free Sprouted Seed Bread

I have my friend Kristin to thank, in part, for this sandwich. She's a fabulous cook, who happens to know all too well about the gluten-free lifestyle. A week or so ago, she came to me extolling the virtues of the baked goods from a local gluten-free bakery, the Grindstone Bakery in Sonoma County. Specifically, she said that I needed to try their bread, the likes of which she found to be exceptional (and that's saying a lot - gluten free breads often, shall we say, leave a lot to be desired in terms of mouthfeel and texture, despite great flavor). She said she had made a sandwich using the bread, and that the bread played a starring role, not just the usual supporting role that bread takes as it thrusts its fillings into the limelight.

So I trudged off like a good little soldier to find me a loaf, and came home with the heaviest hunk of dough I think I've ever held in my hands (one beautiful, small loaf weighs in at a hefty 24 ounces!). I opted for a "sprouted seeds" variety, made of organic quinoa and millet, and rolled in sprouted pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.

The packaging has this to say: "At Grindstone we have returned to ancient bread making methods because we belive that food has a memory: if you treat it kindly, it will treat your body the same way. Hands for mixing, kneading and shaping sough; an old stone mill for gentle grinding of the whole grains; the ancient method of slow natural fermentation, and a custom wood-fired brick oven: those are the tools we use to make our loaves of love."

There was no doubt that the loaf was gorgeous; I was certainly intrigued. But what kind of sandwich to make? I'm rarely a sandwich kind of person; but even so, knew that my go-to PB&J just wasn't the right fit. And then I stumbled upon this:

A stunning heap of squash at the farmers market. Gorgeous orbs and obelisks of numerous shapes and varieties. I knew on the spot I had to purchase a couple, and a lightbulb went off: a grilled veggie sandwich would fit the bill nicely. I walked away with a two eight-ball squash (one green, one yellow), and rounded out the ingredient list with red bell pepper, Anaheim chile, portobello mushroom and red onion, and dreamed up a simple, spicy sriracha spread to slather on for good measure.

It turned out to be sublime. The smoky, charred veggies held up to the tangy, substantial bread, and the sriracha spread just gave everything a nice kick. And the bread was unique, for sure. Dense, toothy, and full of flavor and crunch. I had toasted the bread slabs on the grill as well, so the whole sandwich was warm and hearty - but incredibly healthy.

If you live in the area, it's worth seeking out the bread. But don't despair if you're nowhere near Sonoma County! This sandwich would still be excellent on any good artisan loaf out there. So the next time you fire up the grill, load it up with veggies and dig in!

Grilled Veggie Stacker with Sriracha Spread on Gluten-Free Sprouted Seed Bread
(makes 3-4 sandwiches)
  • 1 loaf Grindstone Bakery sprouted seed bread, sliced
  • 2 eight-ball squash, sliced
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • 2 Anaheim chiles
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 red onion, sliced thick
  • Olive oil, for coating
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces (half a brick) of cream cheese (lite variety ok too!), room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon +/- sriracha pepper sauce
Start by roasting the red bell pepper and Anaheim chiles over high heat on the grill until the skins are blackened and blistered all over. Pull from the grill and immediately put into a plastic bag (this will help sweat the skin away from the flesh of the peppers so it can easily be peeled away). Once cool enough to handle, remove skins and slice.

Lightly coat the mushroom, squash slices and red onion with olive oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill over medium heat until tender. Slice the mushroom (I like to cook portobellos whole and slice them when they are cooked - it makes for easier grilling).

Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil; grill until heated through.

For the sriracha spread, cream together the cream cheese and sriracha sauce. Remember, a little of the sriracha goes a long way, so add a little as you go until the spread reaches your desired level of heat.

To assemble the sandwiches, slather one or both of the pieces of bread with the sriracha spread, then layer with the veggies.

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