Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’

A sandwich’s best friends

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Condiments are as essential for a good sandwich as good bread is, at least for me. I can’t stand a boring assembly and would rather spend half an hour sauteing and marinating ingredients than getting a quick fix of ham and cheese. To avoid dropping from hunger in the meantime, I always have a few essential condiments in the fridge to add zing to the experience. I make most of them myself, as I’m too picky and besides, it’s more fun and cheaper than buying ready made.

The two that for me are must-haves are sun dried tomatoes and caramelized red onions. I have serious competition for the first one – my daughter, who devours them straight from the jar. She also helps me make them and keeps track of the supplies, pushing the alarm button when we are left with only half a jar.

I use $3,99 500-gram packages of Turkish dry tomatoes without oil from a Lebanese store on Kedzie and Lawrence, which I marinate and keep in the pantry. It’s enough for three 12oz jars packed tight to the top. It’s much cheaper than buying them ready made and I can control the ingredients. I use them for pasta, salads, antipasti, grilled meats, dumpling stuffing – the possibilities are endless. Never throw the marinade away – it makes a great base for vinaigrettes or adding extra flavor to simple tomato soup or roasted potatoes.

The onions are my guilty pleasure – I can go though a jar in a single day, eating them with absolutely anything – including pancakes. I takes all my willpower to screw the top back on and put the jar aside. The recipe is very basic and anyone can make them.

Both condiments will make a delicious and sophisticated dish out of any boring sandwich, burger or cheese plate, if you care about impressing your guests or family. I simply like to indulge myself and anybody else brave enough to follow suit.

Marinated sun-dried tomatoes

  • 1 pound (500 gr) dry tomatoes (not in oil)
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil – doesn’t have to be virgin or very expensive
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • leaves from a few sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3X12 oz jars, washed and dry

Fill a soup pot a third full with water and bring to boil. If the tomatoes are salty (like the Turkish ones I use) don’t add salt to the water, if not – add I tbsp salt. When boiling, add the tomatoes and bring back to boil for 2-3 minuets. This will soften the tomatoes. Meanwhile in a big mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk well. With a slotted spoon take out the tomatoes and place them into the bowl. Stir them around in the marinade to coat well. Leave for 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Spoon the tomatoes into the jars, dividing the remaining marinade among them. Add extra olive oil to cover the top and close tight. Keep in a cool place, and after opening in the fridge. Best after 2-3 days if you can restrain yourself.

Caramelized red onions

makes about 1 ½ cups or one 12 oz jar

  • 2 big or 4 medium red onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced – not too thin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar (or balsamic red wine vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over low heat. Saute the onions for 15-20 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until caramelized. Spoon still warm into the jar and close tight. Keep in a cool place, and in the fridge after opening.

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