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Fleur de Lolly column: In search of the perfect ‘summer sandwich’

Laura Tolbert
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If you’re looking for the perfect “summer sandwich,” you will love this one! This sandwich is full of flavors and textures. The richness of the tuna is offset by the tangy vinaigrette. The cucumbers and onions both add a gratifying crunch factor. Briny capers pair well with the fresh herbs and tomatoes. Imagine sitting outdoors enjoying this sandwich with a glass of crisp white wine. That sounds like a perfect afternoon to me.

Provençal Tuna Sandwiches

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

• 4 8-inch-long pieces French bread, split open (I used individual rolls.)

• 1 clove garlic, halved

• 3 large plum tomatoes, cored (1 halved, 2 thinly sliced)

• 2 6 oz. jars tuna in olive oil (preferably Italian), lightly drained

• 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

• 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced

•1/4 cup packed fresh parsley

• 2 tablespoons capers, drained

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add the red onion; set aside.

Rub the inside of the bread pieces with the garlic, then rub with the halved tomato and season with salt and pepper; discard the garlic and tomato skins. Arrange the thinly sliced tomatoes on the bread bottoms.

Add the tuna to the vinaigrette, breaking it into pieces. Stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, parsley and capers; season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the bread bottoms. Close the sandwiches and press down on the bread tops gently.

Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and place a heavy skillet on top. Let sit 15 minutes to soften the bread, then unwrap and cut in half.

- Adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2017

Italian Steak Sandwich with Pesto and Grilled Red Peppers

Steak sandwiches are always a hit with my family, and this one knocked it out of the park. Next time you’re invited to (or hosting) a summer potluck, remember this recipe. With juicy grilled red peppers and flavorful sirloin, the provolone adds the perfect touch.

• 2 large red bell peppers

• 1 to 1 1/2 pound top sirloin steak, trimmed

• Olive oil

• Salt and black pepper

• 1 loaf ciabatta or Italian bread, sliced lengthwise

• 1 cup purchased refrigerated basil pesto

• 8 ounces sliced provolone cheese

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Brush grill grate with oil.

Grill peppers, covered, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Transfer peppers to a bowl and allow them to cool. Remove and discard skins and seeds, then slice peppers into strips.

Coat steak with oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Grill steak to desired doneness, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5 to 7 minutes; slice into thin strips.

Brush cut sides of bread with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill bread, cut sides down, covered until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread pesto on grilled sides of bread and top with provolone. Grill bread on foil, cheese side up, covered, until cheese melts, about 4 minutes.

To serve, arrange peppers and steak on the bottom half of bread, then top with remaining bread half and cut into 6 to 8 servings.

- From Cuisine at Home, Issue 123, June 2017

Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table decor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com, for more than eight years. She won the Duke’s Mayonnaise 100th Anniversary nationwide recipe contest for her Alabama White BBQ Sauce. You can contact her at facebook.com/fleurde.lolly.5, on Instagram, and at fleurdelolly@yahoo.com.