If you have been having a hard time cutting Big Macs out of your life, consider trying to fake yourself out with one of these… The resemblance is uncanny. The taste is beyond compare. Trust me—I am not a health nut—several months ago I wouldn’t go near an eggplant because I thought they looked more like a piece of art or a military device than a food, but to these sandwiches I am totally converted. I will never eat a Whopper again.
Pane Tipo Altamura Eggplant and Tomato Sandwiches
Bread recipe adapted from The Italian Baker
Biga (this will yield 585g, 2 ½ c—more than you need, but you can use the surplus for more loaves if desired!) –mix this up the night before and let sit, covered, at room temperature overnight
¼ cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
2 ½ unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups water
1 ½ cups Biga
5 ½ c finely ground semolina flour, aka durum flour
1 tbsp salt
Combine all ingredients except the salt and mix for 2-3 minutes. Let rest for 2 minutes, covered, and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. “Crashing” is a particularly good strategy with this bread dough—it helps to relax and develop the gluten. Durum is a hard flour and takes a little extra muscle for its undoing. If you have been angry about something, this is a great bread dough on which to take out your aggression. To “crash” dough—literally through it as hard as you can against your kneading surface.
Place the dough in a tall, oiled bowl and let rest, covered, for about 2 and 1/2 hours. Best is to place the dough in a warm place.
Transfer on a floured surface and shape into a tight round—or several. I wanted rolls for these sandwiches, so I made small boules, and one large.
Cover and let rest for further 2 and 1/2 hours (or more) at room temperature.
Invert the dough on a baker’s peel or baking dish, score a cross on top, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes for the rolls, 35 minutes for the large boule.
(KP took the main loaf to give at school as a secret santa gift, so I have no photographic evidence of the finished pane tipo altamura loaf– but trust me, it was a beaut).
Now that you have made your rolls, perhaps you are hungry for a sandwich. This sandwich is the healthy equivalent of a Big Mac, and even looks somewhat like it. And it’s quick!
Take an eggplant, and slice into half-inch transverse sections. Salt the sections with coarse salt and set the pieces out for 30 minutes.
With the remaining oil, cut up a pint worth of cherry tomatoes and cover these in a bowl with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle a little coarse salt and pepper in too.
Arrange the tomatoes around the eggplant slices and bake at 425F for 25-30 minutes. When roasted, arrange the roasted eggplant slices and tomatoes onto the sliced bread, with any extra oil, spread onto the bread. Top with some parmesan cheese, or pecorino romano, and enjoy! SO GOOD.