Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuna Bocadillos

Spanish cuisine is not something I make frequently in my house - for no particular reason at all.  I really love the flavors that their food is know for which is why when I came across this recipe in my Food & Wine (January 2009 edition) magazine, I had to try it! A bocadillo is just the Spanish word for sandwich (pronounced bo-kah-dee-oh). The main difference between bocadillos and U.S. sandwiches is the lack of mayo or lettuce which is replaced with rubbing a tomato on the bread to moisten it, as you will see below. This is no traditional tuna sandwich either - it is much more than that! The sweet caramelized onions along with the bite of the tuna pairs great with the tangy roasted peppers. Let's not forget to mention the crunch of the toasty bread as you bite into this sandwich!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, white and tender green parts only, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram (didn't have this so I used oregano)
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar (be careful not to put too much - the onions will start to sweeten and caramelize on their own)
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 carrot, finely diced (I shredded this instead)
Two 8-ounce jars imported Spanish tuna in olive oil (I used Bumble Bee, in water)
Four 8-inch baguettes, split lengthwise (I used rolls that I had on-hand)
1 ripe tomato, halved crosswise
4 piquillo peppers, cut into thin strips (I used roasted red peppers)
Slice of swiss cheese - I added this to the recipe and melted it on the toasted bread

* As you can see, I made quite a few substitutions for ingredients so that I didn't go broke at the grocery store. There is nothing wrong with this! Part of being a great chef is having the ability to make substitutions on the fly and understanding what food pairs with what.

1. In a skillet, heat the 2 tbsp of oil. Add the onion, leeks, thyme and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 10 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar and carrot and cook until the liquid has evaporated, 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.

2. Add the tuna and its oil to the vegetables, breaking the tuna into large flakes.

3. Preheat the broiler. Brush the cut side of the baguettes with oil and toast slightly. Rub the cut sides of the tomato over the baguettes, leaving lots of pulp. Spoon the tuna onto the baguettes, top with the piquillos; serve. Makes 4 sandwiches.

You can make this sandwich for lunch or dinner - it is hearty enough for either meal. BUT - if you would rather have someone else make it for you, head over to Piquillo at Terminal 5 in JFK Airport in NYC. It was the 1st Tapas Bar to open in a U.S. airport. It also made the list of Best Airport Restaurants from Food & Wine magazine. Clearly this sandwich requires more work than throwing some turkey and cheese on white bread, but overall it is fairly simple to prepare and delicious!

Tutti Mangia! Or should I say A Comer! Both of those phrases translate to "Everybody Eat" for those of you who do not speak Italian or Spanish!


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