Being one for nostalgia and whimsy, I love the winter holidays. In November and December I wish I could slow the months down, wish I could squeeze out more drops of celebration and festiveness. But alas I can’t, no more than I can make time tick more slowly in the summer, when I’m soaking up as much nature and sunshine as possible.
My solution is to be as efficient as possible with my time so I’m able to take care of my holiday to-do list and still be able to make time for just savoring the season. That means that even though I generally love long nights spent cooking, I still have a few quick recipes up my sleeves. They are great for times when the amount of presents to be wrapped or cards to be signed gets overwhelming and takeout is tempting.
One of my current favorite quick, go-to meals is a baked open faced sandwich. This isn’t so much a recipe as a compilation of ingredients, but the results are so sumptuous and satisfying that I had to share.
I start with two slices of bread. (Currently it’s been store-bought bread from Nature’s Pride as I had a couple of loaves I recieved as samples through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program kicking around my freezer. However, I think this would be even better atop a couple slices of Brioche.)
I slather them with a mixture of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard and then layer some greens.
I then top this with thin slices of tart apple…
You could certainly stop right there, but why would you? Adding a generous sprinkling of minced Pancetta, toasted pecans, and a little shredded cheese take this over the edge.
Then I bake the sandwich in the oven until the bread has toasted ever so slightly, the Brie is molten, and the apples have softened. Yes, baking the sandwich does make it a little less quick than your standard cold turkey and cheese variety, but it is ever so worth it. I’ve made this several times now and the results are so consistently fantastic that I often have burned my fingers as I overzealously remove it from the oven, trying to get it from the oven to my lips as quickly as possible.
What I love about this sandwich is that the richness of the cheese is perfectly balanced by the crisp apple and earthy greens. Then you add the hint of nuttiness of the pecans and the salty, porkiness of the Pancetta and I’m in heaven. Sometimes when I’m feeling a wee bit more indulgent and naughty I even mix a little extra mustard and mayonnaise together to serve as a dipping sauce on the side.
All I can say is that whatever is keeping you busy this holiday season, this sandwich is a perfect way to refuel and savor all at the same time. And to help you make your own I’ve got a couple of cheese-centric giveaways coming up after Thanksgiving. I encourage you to stop back for the chance to win something delicious.
-2 slices bread (any mild flavored bread will work fine)
-1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-1/3 cup salad greens (I used Mache)
-1/2 a small tart apple, thinly sliced
-4 thin slices of Brie (about 1 1/2 ounces)
-2 tablespoons minced Pancetta
-2 tablespoons pecan pieces, toasted
-2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Top it with your bread slices.
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Spread the mixture over the bread slices. Top with remaining ingredients in the order listed.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the apple has softened. Note that you will want to keep a bit of an eye on this sandwich as if it is allowed to bake for too long the fat has a tendency to separate from the rest of the cheese making for an oily mess. Serve immediately.