Makes 2 sandwiches (2 servings)
Heating these sandwiches in the microwave makes the buns soft; for a crusty texture, individually wrap the sandwiches in foil and heat them in a 350° F oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is crusty. To serve a crowd, multiply this recipe by 4 and substitute a loaf of Italian bread for the poor boy buns, then slice into sections for serving.
For the spread
2 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Dash of red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt to taste
For the bread
Two 6- to 8-inch poor boy (hoagie) buns, halved horizontally
For the filling
1 tomato, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
Dash of salt
Dash of freshly ground pepper
Two 1/8-inch-thick slices red onion, separated into rings (optional)
½ cup thinly sliced mushrooms
¼ green bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
½ cup (about 2 ounces) coarsely shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup sliced ripe olives
1 cup finely shredded lettuce
To make the spread, stir together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To prepare the bread, spread the cut sides of the buns with pesto-mayonnaise mixture.
To assemble each sandwich, atop the spread on the bottom half of a bun, layer half of the filling ingredients in the order listed. Close the sandwich, spread side down, fasten with long sandwich picks, and halve diagonally.
To heat, place the sandwiches between 2 paper towels in the microwave. Heat on high for 1 minute, or until the buns are warmed and the vegetables are still crunchy. (Heating for longer will make the buns soggy.)
These sandwiches can be assembled up to 2 hours before serving; wrap them in plastic and refrigerate. Heat just before serving.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.