Friday I bought the book Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings by Margaux Sky. It's a lovely cookbook - gorgeous pictures of sandwiches piled high and creative sides as well. I have to admit though, when I order a sandwich I don't like a mountain to be placed before me. I like to eat most sandwiches with my hands, not a fork and knife. (Unless, of course, it is a Croque Madame, which I would gladly eat while hanging upside down by my toenails.)
She did include a chapter on sandwiches which were more like a stromboli, the fillings all rolled up inside the dough pinwheel-style, then baked. The beauty of this is that one can just slice off a big chunk of this loaf and chuck it into a lunch bag - no muss, no fuss. Her dough recipe looked heavenly, too, but honestly....1 cup of heavy cream? A stick of butter? I've not been known to run from fat, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. At least today.
So I looked around, revisited my Nigella cookbooks, and revised one of her bread recipes to create a sandwich anyone would be thrilled to find inside their Dukes of Hazzard lunch box. (oh, was that just me?)
I think this would be fabulous with almost any combination of ingredients you could imagine, and the recipe here just happened to be what I had lying around in the pantry and fridge.
Greek-ish Baked Sandwiches, a la Nigella and Margaux
For the dough, you want to combine 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour with a good teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of yeast. (since I always buy my yeast in bulk, I'm not sure how many packets of yeast you will need. I'm guessing three or so.) Stir your dry ingredients together and then add 1 cup of warm water with 1/3 c. olive oil. Mix until it all comes together. You may want to add some more water if it seems dry. Knead until elastic and springy, or use a dough hook. Once you have a smooth, ivory ball, oil it with olive oil, cover the bowl, and leave it to rise until it's about doubled in size (an hour or so).
When the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out on a floured board or counter until it's about 14" square or so. At this point I added my filling, just like you would add toppings to a pizza. I used about 1.5 cups of ground beef that had been mixed with 1/2 c. softened sauteed onion, a tsp of thyme, S&P and then browned. I also added about a half a cup of spinach that had been cooked, wrung dry, and seasoned with a little grated nutmeg and salt. I threw some chopped fresh mint and oregano over the beef and spinach and then added crumbled feta and chopped marinated artichokes.
Once my dough was covered with all of the goodness, I started at one end and carefully rolled it up, tucking the ends under when I was finished. I let this sit for about 20 minutes on a baking sheet and stuck it into an oven at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until the top was nice and golden. This will easily serve 6.
I think this bread is the ultimate meal when friends come over for lunch. It can be made well in advance and all you need on the side is a little salad.