Recently I agreed to bring the savory edible of my choice to a baby shower. Due to an advanced case of entertaining anxiety I throw parties approximately once every five years, so I was excited to get to try one of the nibbly party recipes I usually have to pass over in my cookbooks. Calmly I decided on B-L-Teas from Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook and pimento cheese sandwiches; calmly I went to the grocery store; and calmly I did some yoga, went for a walk, and took a nap the day before the party. Then I woke up in a panic, realizing how little time I had to make something for dinner, get everything ready for the sandwiches, and finish the baby’s present. It all came together in an intense triathlon of cooking, assembling, and knitting, but on the way to the party, too worn out to tell for myself, I thought, “Are these sandwiches even good?”
People said they were, but, you know, people are kind. This was, I think, my last attempt to embrace pimento cheese; semi-southern upbringing or no, I just don’t get it. (I keep wanting it to be like the sandwich version of my beloved Velveeta and Rotel, and it keeps disappointing me. I was, however, shocked by how many of the Yankee girls seemed excited to see it…was this just baby shower politeness?) The B-L-Tea sandwiches, on the other hand, were quite good, cleverly incorporating sun-dried tomatoes instead of out-of-season fresh ones. I found myself thinking they would make a cheerful anchor for a brown bag lunch in the dead of winter, with an orange for dessert and an extra dose of sunshine. And maybe a bag of potato chips from the vending machine if you’re having an especially rough day.
About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was really cutting into her cooking time. Now she is a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.
- Yield:4 regular-sized sandwiches
- 1/2 pound thick-sliced hickory-smoked peppered bacon
- 8 (about 1 1/4 ounces) sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise, homemade if possible
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices rye bread [I used Pain d’Avignon multigrain]
- 2 ounces mâche or other baby lettuce leaves (about 2/3 loosely packed cup)
Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center position. Arrange the bacon strips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet, pour off the fat, and bake again until the bacon is crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool on paper towels. Crumble into small pieces, about 1/2 inch each.
Chop the sun-dried tomatoes finely and stir them into the mayonnaise. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Spread each slice of bread with sun-dried tomato mayonnaise. Generously sprinkle half of the bread slices with the bacon. Arrange the mâche over the bacon, sprinkle with pepper, and top with the remaining bread.