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THE CONFIDENT COOK

Recipe: Tuck roasted red peppers, fennel, mayo, and provolone into these hearty vegetarian grinders

Vegetarian Grinder.
Vegetarian Grinder.Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Makes 4 large sandwiches

The classic sub (or grinder, hero, or hoagie, if that's what you call it) starts with a long, cylindrical roll or loaf that is generally stuffed with piles of cold cuts, sliced cheese, vegetables, and condiments. The sandwich is thought to have originated in Italian-American communities in the Northeast a century ago. It's the region that determines the name: Hoagie is a Philadelphia sub, grinders are a New England term. The key to a successful vegetarian version is to toss the vegetables first with a flavorful dressing to keep the filling juicy and zippy. Here, the filling includes thinly sliced fennel and red onions, with garlic, oregano, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. The bread is spread with mayo; shredded iceberg is tucked in at the last minute. Roasted red bell peppers also give the meal some tooth. Roast them first to soften the flesh, then turn on the broiler to char the skin; it's removed easily, scraped off with a paring knife. The French bread for a grinder isn’t a classic, crusty baguette, but rather the soft and fluffy rolls you see in every supermarket. The loaf should be about 2-feet long, yielding four 6-inch pieces. Or, use four torpedo rolls or another long roll. Some pro sandwich makers put a layer of cheese on the bottom and top of the filling so the sandwiches don’t get soggy. If you are making grinders ahead, plan to use 14 slices of provolone so you can divide them between the top and bottom. Whatever name you use, the crowd around your table will love these sandwiches.

6 red bell peppers
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2tablespoons red wine vinegar
2tablespoons olive oil
½bulb fresh fennel, tops trimmed, bulb thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1teaspoon dried oregano
½teaspoon sugar
1clove garlic, grated
Pinch of crushed red pepper
¼cup mayonnaise
1large loaf soft French bread or 4 torpedo or sub rolls, split horizontally
½small head iceberg lettuce, cut into fine shreds
10slices provolone cheese
1cup pepperoncini (for serving)

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Place the red peppers on the baking sheet. Roast them, turning once or twice, for 40 minutes. Turn on the broiler and set the rack about 6 inches from the element. Broil the peppers for 20 minutes, turning often, or until well charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and let the peppers steam for 10 minutes.

3. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stems and seeds. Use a paring knife to help scrape off the charred skin. Thinly slice the flesh and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

4. In another bowl, mix the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Add the fennel and red onion with oregano, sugar, garlic, and red pepper. Toss well.

5. Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom half of the loaf or rolls. Add a layer of the fennel mixture, then lettuce, then roasted peppers. Add provolone slices, overlapping them slightly so that they fit on the sandwich. Set the top half of the bread or rolls on the filling and secure the sandwiches with large toothpicks, if necessary.

6. If using a loaf, cut it into 4 even pieces. Serve with pepperoncini.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Makes 4 large sandwiches

The classic sub (or grinder, hero, or hoagie, if that's what you call it) starts with a long, cylindrical roll or loaf that is generally stuffed with piles of cold cuts, sliced cheese, vegetables, and condiments. The sandwich is thought to have originated in Italian-American communities in the Northeast a century ago. It's the region that determines the name: Hoagie is a Philadelphia sub, grinders are a New England term. The key to a successful vegetarian version is to toss the vegetables first with a flavorful dressing to keep the filling juicy and zippy. Here, the filling includes thinly sliced fennel and red onions, with garlic, oregano, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. The bread is spread with mayo; shredded iceberg is tucked in at the last minute. Roasted red bell peppers also give the meal some tooth. Roast them first to soften the flesh, then turn on the broiler to char the skin; it's removed easily, scraped off with a paring knife. The French bread for a grinder isn’t a classic, crusty baguette, but rather the soft and fluffy rolls you see in every supermarket. The loaf should be about 2-feet long, yielding four 6-inch pieces. Or, use four torpedo rolls or another long roll. Some pro sandwich makers put a layer of cheese on the bottom and top of the filling so the sandwiches don’t get soggy. If you are making grinders ahead, plan to use 14 slices of provolone so you can divide them between the top and bottom. Whatever name you use, the crowd around your table will love these sandwiches.

6 red bell peppers
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2tablespoons red wine vinegar
2tablespoons olive oil
½bulb fresh fennel, tops trimmed, bulb thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1teaspoon dried oregano
½teaspoon sugar
1clove garlic, grated
Pinch of crushed red pepper
¼cup mayonnaise
1large loaf soft French bread or 4 torpedo or sub rolls, split horizontally
½small head iceberg lettuce, cut into fine shreds
10slices provolone cheese
1cup pepperoncini (for serving)

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Place the red peppers on the baking sheet. Roast them, turning once or twice, for 40 minutes. Turn on the broiler and set the rack about 6 inches from the element. Broil the peppers for 20 minutes, turning often, or until well charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and let the peppers steam for 10 minutes.

3. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stems and seeds. Use a paring knife to help scrape off the charred skin. Thinly slice the flesh and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

4. In another bowl, mix the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Add the fennel and red onion with oregano, sugar, garlic, and red pepper. Toss well.

5. Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom half of the loaf or rolls. Add a layer of the fennel mixture, then lettuce, then roasted peppers. Add provolone slices, overlapping them slightly so that they fit on the sandwich. Set the top half of the bread or rolls on the filling and secure the sandwiches with large toothpicks, if necessary.

6. If using a loaf, cut it into 4 even pieces. Serve with pepperoncini.Karoline Boehm Goodnick