Farm Market Panino with Seasonal Variations
The first version of this sandwich sprung to life in the late 1980s, early one morning at the Santa Rosa farmers market while I was giving a cooking demonstration with some great locally grown garlic.
Alvarado Street Bakery, located in Petaluma, distributes their sprouted grain breads throughout the United States and in Japan.
Bob Cannard Jr., a farmer in Sonoma Valley who grows produce for Chez Panisse and other high-end restaurants but no longer sells at local markets, came to my table, scooped up some of the sauce I had just made, drizzled it over a sandwich, and handed it to me.
Made on a whole wheat hot dog bun from Alvarado Street Bakery, it had strips of cucumber, sweet golden tomatoes, and thin slices of baby torpedo onions. It was unforgettable, and I’ve used the sauce as a condiment on sandwiches ever since. Traditionally, the sauce itself is the centerpiece of the Italian meal known as bagna cauda, in which seasonal vegetables and chunks of good bread are served alongside for dipping. You can think of this sandwich as a hand-held version. The anchovies are an essential ingredient in the sauce, but vegetarians can omit them and still have a great sandwich.
Set aside a generous pinch of garlic. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the cucumber and the carrots into thin strips. In a medium bowl, toss them together with the pinch of garlic, a generous pinch of salt, and the white wine. Set them aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, the butter, the remaining garlic, and the anchovies, if using, set over medium-low heat, and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Set aside and cool slightly.
Cut the rolls in half, toast them lightly in the oven, and use a pastry brush to coat both sides of the bread with the olive oil mixture. Cover the bottom side of each roll with a layer of cucumbers and carrots, followed by layers of radishes and onions. Season with salt and pepper, spoon a little of the remaining sauce over each sandwich, add the greens and the top part of the roll, and either serve immediately or wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap until ready to serve.
- Summer and early fall: At the peak of tomato season, omit the carrots and the wine, and cut the cucumbers into thin, crosswise slices. Cut 3 or 4 medium heirloom tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds and cover the bottom side of each roll with them and top them with 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves before adding the sliced cucumbers. Continue to build the sandwiches as directed in the main recipe.
- Late fall and early spring: Trim 1 medium fennel bulb and cut it into very thin, crosswise slices. Begin to build the sandwiches with the fennel, setting the cucumber and carrots on top of it.
- Winter: Slice 2 or 3 waxy-fleshed potatoes and cook them in boiling salted water until they are just tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Drain them thoroughly and begin to build the sandwiches with them. Omit the cucumbers and use shredded cabbage in place of the greens.