It’s still 80 degrees and 75 percent humidity by 8:00 am. The caterpillars ate all my parsley and the basil withered while we were in the Pacific Northwest for a week. The cats look equally wilted and tragic no matter how often I run our wheezy window air conditioner. Quarterly taxes are due. I’m turning the oven on again because that long list of fall recipe assignments aren’t going to make and test themselves. Even my Japanese cat game is starting to bore me. In short, I’m burned out.
I’m not sure what is going to cure me of this malaise apart from another vacation (good thing we’re headed back to the West Coast in a few weeks), but in the meantime, I’ll eat the pain away.
While we were in Portland, I found my salvation during another “over it” moment at Meat Cheese Bread. To be fair, I probably shouldn’t have eaten only a Blue Star donut and a (very strong) iced coffee for breakfast, but by 2:00 pm, it was too late, we were too frustrated by traffic as we tracked down various local inspirations for The Simpsons and Grimm filming locations, and I was too,too hangry for words.
The green bean sandwich—such an odd yet comforting mishmash of ingredients—sounded light enough to get me through as a snack until dinner, but it arrived as a hot, dripping behemoth of a meal. Blistered green beans came tucked into a long, toasty roll, the bread soaking up the grease and salt of what the menu called “bacon relish” and a thick layer of aioli, compounded by creamy slices of egg yolk and thick shavings of Parmesan.
It was hearty. It was salty. It was like eating the contents of an entire picnic table potluck between your hands. In fact, it was so surprisingly filling that it induced something I’m now calling “sandwich regret,” where you are compelled to eat the entire thing—despite the warning, creeping pangs of an overstuffed belly—because something this warm and drippy and messy just won’t keep for leftovers.
I’ve felt the same sandwich regret when making it at home, and I still eat everything on my plate because it’s just too good in the moment. Though I’ve contemplated turning the sandwich into a panzanella/nicoise combination salad, it’s just not as satisfying to eat these ingredients out of a bowl with a fork as it is to clutch it between your hands and dig in. If your grill has a side burner, you can make the whole thing outside and save yourself the pain of heating up your kitchen—and giving everything you’re wearing the smell of griddled food and sizzling fat, like one does when leaving the warm and aromatic conditions at Meat Cheese Bread.
Whatever gets you through at this point.
A Hearty Green Bean Sandwich with Bacon Aioli, Eggs, and Parmesan
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 2 sandwiches
- 3 thick strips bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 3-4 tablespoons coarsely shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
- 2 crusty rolls, such as mini ciabatta rolls
Add the bacon to a large, heavy pan like a cast iron skillet. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon has rendered most of its fat and is almost fully crisped.
Stir in the shallot and garlic and cook just until the shallot is tender and the bacon is completely crispy.
Scrape everything in the skillet, including the drippings, into a bowl. Stir in the vinegar and mayonnaise and set aside.
Place the pan back over the heat.
Toss the green beans with the olive oil and add to the pan in a single layer. (You may have to do this in 2 batches if your pan’s not big enough.) Cook until the beans are blistered and charred, then transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining beans. Alternatively, you can char the green beans on a preheated grill in a veggie basket.
Assemble the sandwiches:
Split and lightly toast the rolls.
Slather the cut sides of each roll with the bacon aioli.
Pile the green beans onto each roll, gently pressing them into the bread and arranging them with your hands.
Slice the eggs and fan them across the green beans.
Lavishly sprinkle the Parmesan over the eggs.
Close up the sandwiches, cut them in half if desired, and chow down. Commence sandwich regret.