I rarely eat sandwiches, but there is one that I'm absolutely obsessed with. It is literally one of my favourite things to eat in New York City and definitely my favourite sandwich of all time. It's called the VegItalian Combo, from my awesome local sandwich shop, Court Street Grocers.
I am the first to say, a sandwich with butternut squash and 'hoagie sauce' as it's main ingredients is not a dish I would normally go for. But the utter deliciousness of this sandwich is completely unexpected. The sweetness of the squash is matched by the rich umami goodness of a melange of cheeses, olives, red onion, rocket leaves and a mayo-ish sauce.
This salad is an homage to the Court Street Grocer VegItalian Combo. It's got the butternut, the olives, the rocket but is given the Arthur Street Kitchen-treatment with the addition of lentils, quick pickled shallots and my own secret mayo sauce. The result is a damn tasty salad. If you want the Court Street Grocers VegItalian experience, shove it all into a crusty bread roll ;))
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1.25cm (½ inch) slices
extra virgin olive oil
½ cup lentils (black or green), rinsed
10 green olives, pits removed
10 wrinkly black olives, pits removed
2 cups baby rocket (arugula) leaves
sea salt and black pepper
Quick pickled shallots*
1 small French shallot, very finely sliced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
½ cup whole egg mayonnaise
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan
1 tbsp grated swiss cheese
50g fresh mozzarella, finely diced
Juice of ¼ lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 190˚C / 375˚F.
For the quick pickled shallots, place the shallot slices in a small non-metal bowl and add the vinegar, and sugar, and about 1 tablespoon of water. Stir and leave to pickle while you prepare the rest of your salad.
Place the butternut squash on a large baking tray (or two if you need it) and drizzle over the olive oil. Toss to coat well, and then arrange the slices in a single layer on the tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the squash is tender and golden. Remove from the oven, and season with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and add 2 pinches of salt. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl.
Place the squash in a large mixing bowl, along with the lentils, olives and a few of the pickled shallots. Add about half the sauce, and toss gently to combine. To serve, place ¾ of the rocket on a plate, and top with the squash mixture. Dollop the rest of the sauce on top, and scatter over a few more pickled shallots.
* use as much of the pickled shallots as you like. If you don’t use them all, you can store them, in their pickling liquid, in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 14 days.