What happens when you tweak one of your favorite Ina Garten sandwiches to make it vegetarian?
Good things. Good, good things. I actually LOVE pouring through vegetarian cookbooks and visiting vegetarian cafes, because despite what your kids may tell you, vegetables are delicious. Finding new ways to use them and bring out there surprising flavors is one of my favorite kitchen adventures.
So when I started to think about some of our favorite meals, and how we could make them meat-less, I turned to one of our favorite Ina Garten recipes. I saw her make these chicken tender sandwiches on her show years ago, with sweet peppers and onions, and goat cheese for a tangy kick. Since then it has become an easy quick week-night dinner that my husband loves, but it also makes a great go-to party food recipe, since it is easy to assemble and feeds a crowd. Preparing a long sandwich and slicing it on a cutting board looks rustic, tastes delicious, and clean up is easy.
When I went to go look for the original recipe online, I couldn’t find it, but luckily it is so easy you barely need one. When I whipped it up recently for dinner for the kids, who don’t love goat cheese, I used shredded Monterey Jack Cheese instead. But my husband and I love it with goat cheese.
But it got me thinking, based on my love of portabellas to replace meat these days, wouldn’t this sandwich be delicious with sautéed mushrooms too?
For the chicken version, you just get 2 skillets heated with oil, and let them cook:
But why not make that second skillet mushrooms? They don’t love a crowded pan so two sliced portabellas should fit easily in one large skillet.
The result was super delicious. I almost prefer it to the chicken version, especially when you drizzle a little of this balsamic creme reduction on it (available in most grocery stores right next to the balsamic vinegar section. If you don’t have it you can just drizzle a little balsamic on the bread, or make your own reduction buy reducing it like this.
This was so, so good! Sometimes stores carry Ciabatta rolls instead of loaves, and they taste just as delicious, let me tell you.
Not sure a recipe can get any easier, or more flexible. But the results are always delicious!
Happy Cooking! xoxo Katie
Ciabatta Sammies 2 Ways (printer version here):
1) Chicken, Peppers & Onion Ciabatta Sandwiches
4 T. olive oil, divided
1 package of chicken tenders (usually between 1 and 1.5 lbs)
2 peppers (I used red and orange for color)
2 onions, sliced
Salt & pepper
1 loaf of ciabatta or 4 ciabatta rolls
2-4 oz. goat cheese or other favorite shredded cheese such as montery jack
Heat 2 T. oil in 2 large skillets on medium high heat. Season chicken with 1 t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. When hot, add peppers and onions to one skillet with 1 t. salt, and chicken tenders to the other. Cook chicken until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Cook peppers and onions until tender, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
To assemble sandwiches, slice ciabatta, and arrange peppers, onions and chicken on bread. Add cheese on top, replace top of loaf, then slice and serve.
2) Vegetarian Version with Sliced Portabella Mushrooms
Instead of cooking chicken tenders in second skillet, slice 2 portabella mushroom tops, season with salt and pepper, and saute until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Assemble sandwiches as above, and use Balsamic Reduction, or sprinkle top of loaf with ½ t. Balsamic vinegar, if desired.