One of my favorite Christmas gifts is The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
The internet is an amazing resource, and I don’t own many cookbooks, but I like having some around. I’ve taken to writing my notes on the pages by recipes. I think it’s helpful for repeat cooking (and what to skip repeating). I also harbor a little fantasy that the books could be passed down to future generations and they’ll think “awe, there’s mom’s handwriting.”
Ingredients: 1/2 ounce dried porcini, about 1/2 cup, 8 ounces large white mushrooms, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 garlic cloves – 1 finely chopped, 1 halved, pinch red pepper flakes, 1 bunch spinach – stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped,1 tbsp butter, sea salt and freshly milled pepper, 2 large slices country bread, scant 1/2 cup grated fontina or gruyere cheese.
Recipe Instructions: Soak the porcini in 3/4 cup warm water and set them aside. Slice the fresh mushrooms about 1/3 thick making irregular angular cuts.
Heat the oil in a wide nonstick skillet. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, lift the dried mushrooms from their soaking water, coarsely chop them and add them to the pan with the chopped garlic, pepper flakes and spinach. Saute for 1 minute, then add the soaking water and cook until the spinach is wilted and a little juice is left in the pan. Stir in the butter and season well with salt and pepper.
Toast the bread, then rub with the halved garlic and cover them with the cheese. Set them on two plates, spoon the vegetables and their juices on top, and add a grinding of black pepper.
Here is a picture of the finished sandwich with a salad I threw together (lettuce, tomatoes, vinaigrette and artichokes).
The sandwiches are hearty and rich. They hit the spot for fall time but would be extra-fitting for winter. I usually ask myself “would I be happy if I ordered this at a restaurant?” The answer is YES. This is a restaurant quality sandwich. Try it for yourself!