Saturday, October 24, 2009


We've been so busy (doing what?) it has taken me a week to post what I created for last week's Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell challenge - recreating a favorite restaurant dish. Of course, this entry was too late, but I thought I'd post it anyway.

La Bodega is our favorite sandwich shop. Bug orders the #44 Italian sub ($8.95). The sandwich includes salami, pepperoni, ham, olives, tomatoes, banana peppers, onions, provolone, Italian herbs and dressing.

My favorite for the past 5 years has been the #36 grilled eggplant sandwich ($6.95). The sandwich comes with bocconcini, tomato, and pesto mayonnaise served in a rosemary ciabatta. It's a very sloppy (wet) sandwich to eat. I'm not sure why, but the sloppier the sandwich the more delicious they tend to be.

All sandwiches are panini grill pressed and include a small bag of chips.

For years, I've been meaning to make this very simple sandwich. I almost feel embarrassed to present this as a "challenge," but it is a dish I have been meaning to make. I blame the eggplants sitting at Miles Market.

Bug is the grill master of the house by default, since I don't grill. I believe the eggplant is roasted at La Bodega.

SE Eggplant
Grilled eggplant atop toasted sour dough bread

Basil Pesto
Miles Market has the best fresh basil, price-wise and freshness. We also picked up a chunk of parmesan. When I grated the parmesan, I was surprised it didn't stink like the bottled ones by Kraft that Bug always gets.

SE Basil Pesto
Basil pesto

2 c basil
1/2 c pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c parmesan, grated

In a food processor, blend basil and pine nuts. Add minced garlic. Slowly add the olive oil. Add parmesan.

We didn't make mayonnaise from scratch. I should probably do that some time. For the pesto mayonnaise, I just used Hellmann's mayonnaise and mixed it with some of the basil pesto.

Kenji Alt has an excellent article on basic and animal fat mayonnaise.

SE Pesto Mayo Cheese
Basil pesto mayonnaise and ciliegine mozzarella

As usual, we've made substitutions. I wasn't able to find bocconcini and rosemary ciabatta so I instead bought a container of ciliegine (cherry-sized fresh mozzarella) and a loaf of sour dough bread, respectively.

I chose sour dough because I love the way mayonnaise brings out the sourness in sour dough bread.

SE Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
The ghost of Hello Kitty

So the cheese doesn't roll all over the place, you can either squeeze it flat with your fingers or nuke it for 20 seconds. Nuked, the cheese becomes a hot, pliable goo of gummy cheese but looks presentable. The cheese may look weird squished, but it has a better texture and flavor.

Tomatoes weren't used since I didn't find any worth buying.

I don't have the counter space for a panini grill so I toasted the bread in my Hello Kitty toaster. She decided not to grace us with her countenance.

The sandwich was similar in flavor to La Bodega's. While smaller and not as messy to eat, I liked our sandwich better because the smoky flavor of the grilled eggplant and the sourness of the bread.

- Cassaendra

La Bodega
869 Jefferson Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113-4627
(216) 621-7075

4 deep thoughts:

Michael 26 October, 2009 02:59  

I took at the link for the LaBodega shoppe you had on your posting. I would like 2, yes 2, #34s. I have never thought of the smoked salmon and bacon combo. That sounds like heaven. Smoky and salty....

SicklyBug and Cassaendra 26 October, 2009 11:27  

Hi Michael~

That is another one of my favorites. Of course, I order it w/o onions. It is better than you can imagine. Trust me.

amanea 03 November, 2009 09:22  

Their spicy tomato and crumbled blue cheese soup is perfect for the fall and winter months.

SicklyBug and Cassaendra 03 November, 2009 13:17  

Hi Amanea,

Thanks for stopping by. I haven't tried their soup in a year or more. Part of it has to do with when I walk in; normally 30-45 min to closing. I need to check it out at least over the weekend.

Thanks for the recommendation!

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