Sunday, April 10, 2011

Perfect Spring Sandwich, or Salad

This post is a bit belated, but with several oral surgeries in the last few months between my boyfriend and myself, most of the food currently happening has been of the mushy-soft texture. In addition to lots of dental work, I just finished up my last shift in the burn unit one week ago. Not only does this mean that I'm 110 days away from graduation (!!), but also that my next rotation will determine the jobs I'm eligible to apply for next year. Most importantly, whether or not I get a pediatric rotation determines if I'm able to apply for pediatric nursing jobs, which is what I've always known I want to be. Even people who don't know me well realize very quickly that I belong in pediatrics, and if an adorable baby is around, that 'very quickly' turns into a few microseconds. Wrapping up my time in the burn unit was bittersweet. I learned SO MUCH in just 125 hours, it's really incredible to think back to January and where my skills and comfort level was and how far I've come. The things I saw and treated in the burn unit don't lend themselves well to a food blog, so I'll leave you with one of the best moments I've had thus far in my nursing career.

About a month ago, I had an evening shift with three very emotionally taxing patients, the kind of night that ends with a lot of tears, chocolate and wine. But a week later, one of those patients, a young adolescent, was having their last shower/wound check before being discharged to go home. As I stopped to say hi and see how she was, her mom asked to take a picture of her daughter with me, thanking me for caring for her daughter and their family during such a hard time. Taking the picture with my patient and talking with her and her mom was easily one of those crystalizing moments of 'yep, this is exactly where I belong', which is unbelievably exciting to experience and very important to hold on to when school's taking everything I've got.

Sorry for the long divergence, but this is supposed to be a food + nursing school blog, and I really wanted to share that with whoever is reading out there. Alright, so back to awesome food! The recipe for this sandwich came from TastingTables email updates, and it combines some of my favorite spring ingredients into a delicious Mediterranean-style sandwich. The eggplant and artichokes form the basis of the filling, and are a filling-enough combination that nobody left feeling hungry or wishing there'd been meat on the sandwich. The sun-dried tomatoes add a little bit of a sweet, olive-y taste, which is well matched by the mild pepperoncini spice and the tart Feta cheese. Sandwich all that between a thick, crusty loaf of sourdough bread with some hummus schmeared on it and you've got one impressive entrée.

This is by no means a *clean* sandwich. This is a shovel the insides off the baking pan and off your plate, pick up dropped bits with your fingers, very messy sandwich- but that almost makes it more gratifying once it's finished. If you're looking for something a little lighter on carbs or that travels easier, the filling is delicious over a bed of spinach. Or you can throw the spinach in and saute it with the filling for the last few minutes and then serve it over Quinoa if you want lower carbs and higher protein (I'll do a post very soon about the awesomeness and versatility of Quinoa, so keep checking back!). Any way you serve it, this is a great combination of flavors and really good for you as well -- lots of vitamins, omega-3s, and filling up on veggies!

Spring Artichoke-Eggplant Sandwich
Adapted from Tasting Table
Makes 4-6 servings, ~30 minutes

3 Tbs Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 small Eggplant, roughly chopped
2 14-oz cans of Artichoke Hearts, roughly chopped
1 large loaf of Sourdough Bread, halved lengthwise
3 Pepperoncini, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup hummus

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and cover a baking pan with tin foil, to help with clean-up later.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add the eggplant and cook for ~5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn brown.
3. Add the artichokes and continue cooking for ~2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they're lightly browned.
4. Place the bottom half of the bread on the lined baking sheet. Spread the eggplant and artichokes over the bread, then top with the pepperoncini, tomatoes and feta.
5. Spread hummus over the top half of the bread and place on top of the sandwich, pressing gently to close.
6. Bake the sandwich for ~8 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and the filling is warmed through.
7. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into 4-6 pieces, depending on appetites and desired serving sizes. Serve immediately!

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