May 13, 2011

The Beet Tzatziki-Feta-Fennel-Chickpea-Parsley Sandwich

Studies have shown that foods with long descriptions taste better.

That's why today's recipe has such a long name. When Alex and I used to experiment with cooking back in middle school, we made lemon-pepper-spinach-chicken-pasta-salad. According to a recent study, it was the best pasta salad ever made.

The components of this sandwich are numerous, for sure. So if you're looking for a classic PB&J, or a BLT, or a SLG, or some other simple yet delicious tri-letter sandwich, don't let me stop you. Simple sandwiches are great. And if you're wondering what an SLG sandwich is, so am I (salami, lettuce and grapes?).

But if you're looking for something with big bright flavors that go crazy when you bite into them, look no further. You've got the warm chickpeas (which you can replace with any bean, really), the zingy feta, the fresh and fruity fennel and the garden-fresh parsley. And it's all on the base of beet tzatziki, which, if you've never had, you're really in for something. Its silky smooth, sweet and singing with flavor. And it's bright purple.

And bright purple foods taste better, according to studies.

Recipe below.

The Beet Tzatziki-Feta-Fennel-Chickpea-Parsley Sandwich

The beet tzatziki goes great as dip as well.

For the tzatziki:
-2 large beets (purple or golden will work)
-1/2 cup yogurt
-1 garlic clove, finely chopped or smashed
-juice of one lemon
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-salt and pepper

-1 large baugette
-1/2 cup feta, coarsely crumbled
-1 can chickpeas, drained
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 teaspoon pepper flakes
-1 head fresh fennel, stem and core removed, thinly sliced
-2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
-lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for topping

1. To make the tzatziki, place beets, stems removed, in a shallow baking dish with a shallow layer of water. Cover tightly with foil and pierce some holes in the foil. Bake at 400 until beets can be easily pierced with a knife, 45-60 minutes.

2. Remove beets and let cool. Using the back of a spoon, scrape off the skin. Using a food processor or a box grater, grate the beets on the largest setting into a medium bowl. Add the other ingredients and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. To make the sandwiches, cut the baguette into 3 or 4 pieces, cut those in half lengthwise, and toast. While they are toasting, heat the olive oil in  small saute pan. Add the chickpeas and pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes. When the bread is toasted, spread one side with the beet tzatziki. Top with chickpeas, fennel, crumbled feta and parsley. Top with lemon juice, olive oil and more salt and pepper if desired. Serve at once.