Well, doesn't everyone stay up late to make 3 kinds of sandwiches to share with supporters after a triathlon? Yeah, I know, maybe this idea was funny just to me.
The night before the Memphis in May event -- not a short sprint or relay event, dear readers, but the real deal, full-length thing -- I was supposed to be resting. With a bouquet of backyard hydrangeas in hand and alternate plans not revolving around going to sleep at eight on a Saturday night in mind, my wife departed after giving me strict instructions to go directly to bed. She also remarked that I would probably find something to do in the kitchen up until the very last minute. She was right.
I thought toting three kinds of sandwiches for an after-tri picnic was in order: a muffaleta with oven-dried tomatoes, provolone, and olive dressing; a tofu bahn-mi with shiso; and a Korean barbecue with kimchi. The first one and the last one were both hits; for some reason, getting people to try bahn mi is a challenge, but that one at least is always a hit with me.
Olive Bar Vegetarian Muffaleta
Take a medium-sized container from the olive bar at the store and fill it 3/4 full of a mix of your favorite olives. Get it home and add all the olives plus one chopped carrot, two chopped celery stalks, and one clove of garlic to a food processor. Pulse until well-chopped. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and then return the mix to the olive bar container. Add 4 tbsp. of olive oil and return it to the fridge for an hour so that the flavors meld.
Slice tomatoes to 1/8 of an inch and put slices into a 300 degree oven for 2 hours or until they start to look dry. Remove and allow to cool completely -- if you don't, they'll fall apart!
It's time to assemble your muffaleta. Grab a nice focaccia, split it, and place a cup of shredded provolone on one side of bread. Melt this under the broiler until it's bubbly. Next, layer the tomatoes and the olive dressing on the bread.
The sweet oven-dried tomatoes act as a foil for the bitterness and saltiness of the olives. Sitting under a tree in Millington in 90-degree heat last Sunday, my friends and family thought the sandwiches made cheering me on a palatable reward. I loved the fact that even though I told them to arrive around eleven o'clock in order to have plenty of time to see me at the finish line, I surprised them and myself by already being done when they got there. I'd clocked my new record time, 3:08, an improvement over 3.30 from last May.