By Joe Gray
When is a twist on something so different that it doesn’t resemble the original at all? This might be one of those times.
When Lenten observances demand a meatless meal, the pepper and egg sandwich is a favorite for its fat strips of sauteed green bell pepper nestled into mounds of fluffy scrambled eggs, all tucked into a crusty roll. Some would add giardiniera for heat and a tart contrast to the sandwich’s richness, but there’s not much reason to toy with it.
Traditionalists, look away.
This sandwich is like the original only in that it has an egg and a bell pepper and there’s bread. I played with each ingredient, then added a few for more fat, savoriness and freshness.
If you like a runny yolk, you could make this a knife-and-fork sandwich, or just embrace the messiness. I like focaccia here, but if you don’t have a good source, another crusty bread, maybe a kaiser roll or ciabatta, would work well.
One thing the sandwich lacks is some acid. But giardiniera seems, in my mind, a bad fit. To bring in some acid, I’d toss together a vinegar-dressed slaw to serve alongside.
And then say penance for messing with a classic.
SANDWICH WITH AN EGG AND A PEPPER
Focaccia, cut to a sandwich-size piece, about 4 by 4 inches
Olive spread, aka olivada or olive tapenade
½ roasted red bell pepper, see note
1 fried egg, over hard
1 or 2 slices taleggio cheese (or provolone)
Slice the focaccia in half horizontally. Spread the inside of the top half with olive spread. Place the roasted pepper on bottom half; top with the fried egg, then the cheese. Sprinkle with plenty of arugula leaves. Close with the top half of the focaccia.
Makes 1 sandwich.
Note: To roast peppers, heat the broiler. Arrange the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil; place baking sheet under the broiler, a few inches from the heat. Broil, turning as needed, until peppers are charred on all sides, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a paper bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle; peel off the skin. Seed and core the peppers; slice in half lengthwise.