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Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwiches

For this recipe, the ingredients in classic pesto have been altered to make a zesty sandwich spread with considerably fewer calories. The olive oil is reduced to make the sauce thicker. Reserve leftover pesto to season soups or pasta or for future sandwiches. 

Ingredients:

For the roasted bell peppers: 

  • 2 large red bell peppers, about 3/4 lb. each, quartered lengthwise and seeded 
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  •   

For the pesto: 

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves 
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds 
  • 1 Tbs. grated pecorino romano or Asiago cheese 
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped 
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 Tbs. water
  •   
  • 8 slices multigrain yeast bread (see related recipe at left) or other whole-grain bread, toasted 
  • 1/4 lb. low-fat mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced  
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula leaves 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

To roast the bell peppers, spread the pepper quarters, skin side up, in a shallow 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Drizzle evenly with the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and a grind of pepper. Roast, turning often, until the peppers are blackened and are tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and tightly cover the baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand until cool. Using a paring knife, remove any of the loosened skin and discard.

To make the pesto, in a food processor, combine the basil leaves, walnuts, cheese and garlic and process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and then the water through the feed tube. Process until creamy. Scrape into a small bowl.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread 1 Tbs. of the pesto on each of 4 of the toasted bread slices. (Spoon the remaining pesto into a container with a tight-fitting lid, pour a thin layer of olive oil onto the surface to prevent darkening and refrigerate for up to 1 week.)

Divide the mozzarella evenly among the pesto-topped bread slices. Top each with 2 roasted pepper quarters and 1/2 cup of the arugula leaves. Put the remaining toasted bread slices on top and cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).