Roasted peppers are as much a part of summer for us as vine-ripened tomatoes. We love the sweet caramelization achieved by fire roasting these already sweet capsicum. By using the red peppers on the sandwich and the yellow peppers in a purée that becomes the sauce, we get a double dose of pepperiness that complements the chicken and keeps it moist. Rosemary is the final touch, giving this chicken a Mediterranean flair. See the variation for a canapé that will knock your socks off.
Makes 4 sandwiches or 24 hors d’oeuvres
4 yellow bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus a couple of small sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 fresh ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
Outdoor grill or cast iron grill pan
Blender or food processor
Prepare the yellow pepper purée:
Using tongs, roast each yellow pepper over the open flame of a burner, rotating frequently until the skin is nicely charred and the flesh begins to soften. Place the peppers in a plastic bag and seal, allowing to steam for 10-15 minutes. The skin should come off easily by rubbing it with your fingers. Remove as much of the skin and charred bits as possible, and cut the flesh away from the seed pod and stem. Purée the yellow peppers in a blender or food processor with ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, then strain through a sieve into a bowl.
Prepare the roasted red pepper strips:
Using the same technique as for the yellow peppers, roast the red peppers over an open flame, steam them in a plastic bag, and remove the skins. Cut away the roasted flesh in large strips and set aside.
Prepare the grilled chicken salad:
In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, remaining ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Prepare a grill or heat a grill pan on the stove.
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Brush with the mustard mixture and grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through with nice grill marks. Cool, then dice the chicken into 1” chunks and toss with the chopped rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and enough of the yellow pepper purée to coat.
Split each ciabatta roll and toast lightly. Place one or two strips of roasted red pepper on each side, then fill with the chicken mixture. If desired, you may use additional yellow pepper purée on the sandwiches. Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap for a picnic lunch.
[Chef’s Note: It is sometimes helpful to remove a bit of the inner soft bread (or mie in French) so that the sandwiches can have more filling. You may also add lettuce and tomato to the sandwich if desired.]
These same ingredients work well together for making these sandwiches into hors d’oeuvres. Simply toast thin slices of bread and rub with garlic to make crostini. Spread each slice with a little of the yellow pepper purée, top with a slice of roasted red pepper, then a slice of the grilled chicken, and garnish with a squeeze of the yellow pepper purée and a rosemary leaf.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya