Belly of the Beest

Apricot Fennel Ricotta Sandwiches

Apricot Fennel Ricotta Sandwiches

I saw this recipe in the Chicago Tribune food section and despite having just finished breakfast immediately wanted to make and devour these. Then, as usually happens, I made note of the recipe, got distracted with the millions of other things I want to try to make and forgot about it.

When I cleaned out my office the other day I came across it and again was amazed I hadn’t tried it yet. We finally had occasion to make it when our friends Sudha and Evan came over for brunch in late August. These little sandwiches were everything I thought they would be and more. Before I give the recipe though, I have to give Sudha credit for the rich and drool-worthy French cream she made to pour over our fresh fruit. It was like eating melted ice cream. So. Good.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the killer sandwiches. Think Grahamwich (new restaurant opening in Chicago that serves gourmet sandwiches) will have anything better than this? Doubt it. But then, I don’t really like Graham Elliot and his upscale, classist shenanigans.

A few notes before the recipe:

Star anise is my favorite spice to cook with, it is beautiful and fragrant, and who doesn’t love just looking at it? Such an intricately shaped spice…wow.

We used dried apricots because the fresh ones are no longer in season. We used Turkish one so they were darker than the ones found in most supermarkets.

We chopped a lot more pistachios than the recipe calls for because we are fiends for them.

Dried Apricots and Fennel

Apricot and fennel sandwiches with ricotta, pistachios and black pepper

Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 15 minutes Makes: 4 sandwiches (It can make more if you make open faced sandwiches.)

1 cup each: sugar, water

4 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

¼ tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed

6 apricots, pitted, quartered Sliced bread

½-1 bulb fennel, sliced crosswise into thin strips

½ pound ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios ½ tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1.     Combine sugar, water, star anise, cinnamon and crushed pepper in a saucepan; heat to a boil. Reduce the heat; simmer 2 minutes. Add the apricots and fennel. Heat to a simmer; cook until the apricots are soft and the fennel has just a slight crunch, about 10 minutes.

2.     Grill or toast the bread on both sides. Spread the ricotta on each slice; top with the apricot/fennel mixture. Finish with the pistachios; season with salt and pepper to taste.

We had leftover apricot mix and ricotta so the next day Nick and I mixed them together and it was like eating cannoli filling. I love eating ricotta in various forms for dessert and this is my new favorite.

This is another any time of day recipe. I love recipes like this! I find myself making more and more like this. What’s your favorite sandwich combination?

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  1. Martin Seay
    8 September, 2010

    I was totally with you right up until “melted ice cream,” the mere mention of which — as some of you may know — strongly triggers death anxiety for me. (Sudha, this is just me: it’s no judgment on your French cream.)

    These sandwiches sound like a major event in human history.

    Like many people who don’t watch TV and are not plutocrats, I was unfamiliar with Graham Eliott Bowles and his restaurants, and therefore checked him out online. Oh my lord god, this man needs to be pushed down the stairs. One of his websites lists “humility” as one of his guiding principles. Yo Graham, how many restaurants do you operate? Two? And of those, how many have you named after, um, yourself? Yeah — I thought so.

    My go-to sandwich is and pretty much always has been peanut butter and fig preserves: Bonne Maman if available, or maybe New Canaan Farms’ Lemon Fig Preserves. Occasional sandwich treat: sardines and mild pickled jalapeños on wheat toast with a little mayo. Aw yeah.

  2. sudha
    9 September, 2010

    No worries, Martin! The texture of the cream is different from melted ice cream, which might make it a little less squicky for you.

    These sandwiches were delicious! I only wish they were a tiny bit less sweet. I bet chili pepper would solve this problem. 😉

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