Open-face artichoke melt
I was reading about an artichoke festival they have in Tuscany, Italy about this time of year. The article featured a sandwich made with focaccia bread, black olives and fresh baby artichokes seasoned with lemon juice.
I thought, Man, I wish I were in Tuscany right now. Because traveling to Italy was not an option, I sat down at the kitchen table and began outlining artichoke sandwich ideas. I decided my sandwich would be open-faced and, for ease of purchase and prep, use canned artichoke hearts instead of the baby artichokes used at the Tuscan artichoke festival.
As I was enjoying this wonderful sandwich in the sun on our back deck, I thought, This is the kind of late afternoon meal Diane Lane would have shared with her lover in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s the perfect sandwich for a spring fling with food.
This hot, open-faced sandwich begins with a taste of classic Italian Fontina cheese and buttery Castelvetrano olives. The fresh tomatoes and artichoke hearts, encased in crusty Ciabatta, get a kick from fresh lemon and explode with flavor as you savor each and every bite.
Serve with your favorite wine and clink glasses in a toast to friends, family and to the sunny weather. Mangiamo!
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (cut in half lengthwise)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 small clove garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup Italian parsley (chopped course)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ripe plum tomatoes (sliced ½-inch thick)
2 Ciabatta rolls (cut in half horizontally)
½ cup Castelvetrano olives (pit and slice in half)
4 deli slices Fontina cheese
Slice artichoke hearts in half lengthwise. Pat dry and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add artichokes to the skillet and sauté until golden – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper to mixture. Transfer to a small bowl and stir gently to mix. Cover and set aside.
Return skillet to heat; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange tomato slices in skillet and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn each slice over and cook for another 60 seconds. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Scoop out the doughy bottom of each Ciabatta half creating a cavity for the filling. Spread each half with ¼ of the olives. Mound the artichoke mixture over olives and arrange tomato slices over the artichokes. Place one slice of cheese over tomatoes.
Place sandwich halves on baking sheet and place sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven. Broil until cheese melts – about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so cheese does not burn.
Remove sandwiches from broiler and serve while still hot.