There’s something about going to lunch. I’ve always found it to be such a treat.I can remember when I was in college and maybe had a little extra money and I’d find a friend and we go some where for lunch. I have clear visions of a place where I would go with my great friend A. and we would get these unbelievable shrimp salad or tuna salad sandwiches. There was also a spot that I would go with my friends from growing up whenever I was home on vacation. It was this small restaurant on the second floor of a small building-I think it might have been called “Raspberry” and although I can’t remember what it is I used to order, I do remember those wonderful feelings spent over food with friends that I love. There’s just that something about lunch with girlfriends that’s different than going to dinner.
Today I had my friends to lunch. It’s as much as a treat for me to cook for them, as it is to go to a restaurant. It’s been a while since we’ve all been together so I wanted a menu that was done ahead of time and ready to go. I wanted to be able to sit and catch up! I decided that since I have that new fabulous panini grill I had to use it for lunch. I have a special affinity for the “Autostrada”-a wonderful pressed sandwich of Italian meats and cheese. This classic is named after the road side stops off the highway in Italy and unfortunately a few years back when we were driving through Italy, we didn’t know that these places actually had good food. Leave it to the Italians! My first experience with this sandwich was a few years back at Campanile (in LA) for their Thursday grilled cheese night. This sandwich was on the menu and I knew it was for me.
Our menu for was:
Crudites with Stonehouse Extra Virgin Olive Oil (California)Australian Sea Salt
Toasted Walnuts with Rosemay and Cayenne
We drank some Veuve Clicquot with this!
Grilled Autostrada Sandwich
Salad of Mache with Belgian Endive with Vinegar and Oil
Sliced Cremini Mushrooms with Dijon Vinaigrette and Chives
We sampled a variety of California red wines that happened to be open in the house.
Meringues with Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge Sauce and Toasted Hazelnuts
The sandwich recipe is from Nancy Silverton’s “Sandwich Book”.
8 slices white or wheat sourdough bread
Soft unsalted butter for spreading on bread
4 ounces sliced aged provolone (preferably imported)
4 ounces sliced mortadella
4 ounces coppa (I didn’t have, so I left out)
4 ounces dry salami
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
4 jarred marinated chili peppers,seeded and finely chopped
To assemble:Butter one side of each slice of bread. Lay 4 slices bread, buttered side down and layer with half the cheese (take care that cheeses doesn’t hang over edges of bread). Continue layering with meats, then top with chili peppers and end with another slice of cheese. Top with bread (buttered side up) and grill on panini grill or in skillet. Grill about 4-5 minutes. Slice on diagonal and enjoy!