Many of us in the Northeast got slammed with more snow on Wednesday. Winter 2014 lives up to its promise of a good old fashioned Canadian winter with frigid temperature and more snow than we care for. I worked from home to avoid messy traffic. It was a bonus that I got to stay close to my kitchen all day long so I took the opportunity to bake bread. It doesn’t take up much time nor attention but I do need to stay close to the rising dough. That was my recess activity on Wednesday.
I surveyed my fridge and pantry. An opened jar of sundried tomato in olive oil, a small handful of black olives, a bit of thyme, and some grated cheddar cheese. I recalled a Dan Lepard recipe for sundried tomato loaf. He called it absolutely delicious but also loathed by artisanal bakers. I had to smile…absolutely true! And often overpriced to boot! Baking from home can be economical and it is the case here.
The bread was almost too easy to make. I put all the dry ingredients in the stand mixer bowl. All the wet ingredients went into a measuring cup. The dough hook made quick work of forming the dough in about 2 minutes. I followed Lepard’s standard method of 15 seconds of kneading in between 10 minutes of rest. And then it was a simple matter of giving the dough a nice warm home to rise. I shaped the dough into an oval and topped with grated cheddar cheese for a nice crispy savoury crust. The sundried tomato bread was easy to love.
It begged to be made into a sandwich. But bread with so much character doesn’t play well as a blank canvas. I needed to fill it with complementary flavours that would not take away the spotlight. I took the Italian cue and added mild fior di latte mozzarella cheese and pan seared portobello mushroom. For good sandwich construction, I needed a barrier to protect the bread from filling with so much moisture. Pesto came to mind.
Pesto is no wallflower. It is vibrant and demands attention. I took the inspiration and created a basil cannellini bean spread. It is lean and the flavour more subtle. It blends well into the background to be a supporting player. Oh, and it is so easy to make! The earthy cannellini bean is mixed with plenty of basil, a bit of garlic, walnut oil, and a drizzle of white wine vinegar for lightness. I served my sandwich with a cute garnish of grape tomato sweethearts. Surely you know that Valentine’s Day is coming up next week?
Basil Cannellini Spread
makes about 1 cup
- 19oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 40g basil leaves
- 2 big cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- a few grinds of black pepper
- Put all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.
- Adjust seasoning and serve. Can be stored in airtight container for 2 days in the fridge.