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Eric Akis: Step up your sandwich game with gourmet toppings

These hearty and flavourful sandwiches are rich with tangy cheese, silky, salty proscuitto, roasted vegetables and other tasty things
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A baguette sandwich with prosciutto, goat cheese, roasted vegetables, tomatoes and more. ERIC AKIS

Meat and cheese have long been popular ingredients to use in a sandwich. But if you want that sandwich to be gourmet, you’ll want to dress up those key items with complementary ingredients.

I certainly did that in my recipe for deluxe Mediterranean-style baguette sandwiches. The meat in them is silky, salty, thinly sliced prosciutto, and the cheese, creamy, tangy Salt Spring Island goat cheese — splendid items that became even more so when accompanied with other ingredients that included, including herbaceous roasted vegetables, ripe tomato, refreshing lettuce and splashes of balsamic glaze.

Balsamic glaze, also called balsamic crema, is a beguiling reduced balsamic vinegar mixture sold at Italian/European-style food stores and in the vinegar aisle or deli section of supermarkets.

You can also make your own glaze by simmering one cup of balsamic vinegar in a small pot until reduced to about 1/4 to 1/3 cup, or until lightly thickened and syrupy. Cool the glaze to room temperature, use what you need for the recipe, and store the rest away in a small, tightly sealing jar in your refrigerator until you need some again.

My sandwich recipe serves two, but could be expanded if feeding a larger group. Enjoy the sandwich for a late summer lunch or dinner with a glass of rose wine.

Deluxe Mediterranean-style Baguette Sandwiches

Hearty and flavourful sandwiches rich with tangy cheese, silky, salty prosciutto, roasted vegetables and other tasty things.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes

Makes: two servings

10 (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) slices zucchini

8 (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) slices yellow or orange bell pepper, any inner membranes removed

8 (1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) slices red onion (see Note)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp paprika

• pinch red pepper flakes

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 (about 6-inch long) pieces of baguette (see Eric’s options)

75 to 100 grams Salt Spring Island goat cheese or other soft goat cheese, or to taste

• leaf lettuce leaves, baby mixed salad greens or arugula, to taste

4 to 6 slices ripe red tomato

4 to 6 paper-thin slices prosciutto (see Eric’s options)

• balsamic glaze, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Set zucchini, bell pepper and onion on the baking sheet (it’s OK if they slightly overlap).

Combine olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, paprika and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Brush mixture on the vegetables; season with salt and pepper.

Set zucchini, bell pepper and onion in the oven and roasted 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender and richly flavoured. Remove these roasted vegetables from the oven and cool to room to temperature.

Cut each piece of baguette lengthwise in half. Spread the cut sides of the baguette with goat cheese.

Set two or three tomato slices on the goat cheese on each bottom piece of baguette. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Top tomatoes with leaf lettuce leaves (or baby salad greens or arugula).

Now divide and arrange the roasted vegetables on the lettuce, and then set on the prosciutto. Drizzle the prosciutto with a little balsamic glaze. Set on the top bread pieces and serve.

Note: The red onion I sliced for this recipe was small to medium in size.

Eric’s options: Four slices of crusty Italian bread could replace the baguette. The sandwiches could also be made on two large, crusty buns. Instead of prosciutto, try another sliced deli meat, to taste, in these sandwiches, such as salami, soppressata or capicola, or use a mix of meat.

Victoria festival rich with meat and cheese

If you enjoy fine charcuterie and cheese you’ll pleasingly get your fill of them by attending this Saturday’s Victoria’s Meat and Cheese Festival taking place at The Carshop at Bayview Place, 80 Saghalie Rd.

This popular event is broken down into tasting sessions and those attending can choose which one they wish to partake in. The afternoon session begins at 3 p.m., and the evening session starts at 7 p.m. Each session lasts about two hours.

A range of specialty foods and beverages will also be sampled during the event; artisan products that pair very well with the charcuterie and cheese being served.

Tickets for each session are $95.75 person, which includes taxes and service fees. To learn more about the Meat and Cheese Festival and to purchase tickets go to cheeseandmeatfestival.com.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.