I was reading about an artichoke festival they have in Tuscany, Italy about this time of year. The article featured a sandwich made with focaccia bread, black olives and fresh baby artichokes seasoned with lemon juice.
I thought, That looks good. Wish I were in Tuscany right now. Because traveling to Italy was not an option I sat down at the kitchen table and began outlining artichoke sandwich ideas. I decided my sandwich would be open-faced and, for ease of purchase and prep, use canned artichoke hearts instead of the baby artichokes used at the Tuscan artichoke festival.
As I was enjoying this wonderful sandwich in the sun on our back deck, I thought, This is the kind of late afternoon meal Diane Lane would have shared with her lover in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. It is the perfect sandwich for a spring fling with food.
This hot, open-faced sandwich begins with a taste of classic Italian Fontina cheese and buttery Castelvetrano olives. The fresh tomatoes and artichoke hearts, encased in crusty Ciabatta, get a kick from fresh lemon and explode with flavor as you savor each and every bite.
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (cut in half lengthwise)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 small clove garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup Italian parsley (chopped course)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ripe plum tomatoes (sliced ½-inch thick)
2 Ciabatta rolls (cut in half horizontally)
½ cup Castelvetrano olives (pit and slice in half)
4 deli slices Fontina cheese
Slice artichoke hearts in half lengthwise. Pat dry and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add artichokes to the skillet and sauté until golden – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper to mixture. Transfer to a small bowl and stir gently to mix. Cover and set aside.
Return skillet to heat; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange tomato slices in skillet and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn each slice over and cook for another 60 seconds. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Scoop out the doughy bottom of each Ciabatta half creating a cavity for the filling. Spread each half with ¼ of the olives. Mound ¼ of the artichoke mixture over olives and arrange ¼ of the tomato slices over the artichokes. Place one slice of cheese over tomatoes.
Place sandwich halves on a baking sheet and place sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven. Broil until cheese melts – about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so cheese does not burn.
Remove sandwiches from broiler and serve while still hot.