Do the ingredients below seem a little odd for a sandwich?
I probably would have thought so before last summer, when I had the amazing opportunity to visit my favorite country, the Czech Republic. I love to read histories on the country in my spare time. I am told this is generally not the reading material people choose for leisure…but if you want some recommendations, let me know! (:
It had been almost 10 years since I first visited the Czech capital, Prague, and I was so incredibly excited to go back! And this trip, in addition to Prague, I would have the chance to explore another Czech city, Brno.
Brno is the second most populated city in the country, Prague being the first. However, to say that it is less tourist-y than Prague would be an understatement! English is much less prevalent in the city. And when I went to restaurants where the waiters spoke English, I was usually asked if I was a student at the University. (Brno is a University town.) When I replied I was in Brno as a tourist, they were shocked! Brno locals just don’t see a lot of foreign tourists. And it really is a shame, the city is so so beautiful!
ANYWAY, I could go on and on about Brno, but let’s get to the sandwich.
I found this sandwich for lunch one day during my stay in Brno, in an adorable bakery just a few doors down from the Koruna Pralines chocolate shop I found myself visiting daily…! The bakery had one vegetarian sandwich, and it looked incredibly unique—a Brie-like cheese, slivered almonds, arugula, and dried cranberries—all on an amazingly fresh baguette.
I was intrigued. And hungry, so I gave the sandwich a try. And WOW, it was amazing! Truly an example of how simple, good ingredients can make for an amazing meal. I lost count of how many more times I got this sandwich for lunch during my time in Brno. Let’s just say it was A LOT. And when my mom came to visit me in the city, guess where the first place I took her for a meal was?
When I got home to California, I knew I would definitely recreate this sandwich from Brno. I made some changes and additions, and ended up with what I think is a spectacular sandwich. This simple, elegant sandwich is definitely a favorite lunch of mine. I hope you will enjoy it too!
A few things to note, I prefer to make this on a demi-baguette, the dimensions of which I have listed in the ingredients. If you can’t find a demi-baguette, not a big deal! As with all sandwiches, you will just need to adjust the condiment ratios according to bread size and your own tastes. I have listed in the ingredients the proportions/ratios that I prefer, but of course, experiment!!!! Do a little more or a little less of the ingredients to your preference.
Also, I cut the middle of the bread out. I love good bread! Like I could live on it. But even too much good bread on a sandwich can swallow up the other flavors. So rather than just cut the baguette in half, I cut the middle third out of the bread.
You know who else was a fan of cutting out the middle of bread? DEAN MARTIN. I have to include this great little story that Dino’s daughter, Deana Martin, shares in her fabulous book on her father. Deana recounts how as a teen hanging out at her good friend Tina Sinatra’s house, she enjoyed eating Nancy Sinatra’s homemade bread. But Deanna would always…
…pull the soft center out of the bread and only eat the crust. It’s something I do to this day because Dad once told me, ‘If you don’t eat the middle of the bread, you won’t get fat.’
There you go! Diet advice from the always svelte Dean Martin. If you were on the fence about cutting that middle third out of the bread, hopefully this convinced you. (:
And if you haven’t read Deana’s book (Memories are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes), I highly recommend it! Truly a page-turner and such a sweet, honest account of her dad and growing up in Hollywood of the late 50s-70s.
Now to the recipe!
The Brno Sandwich
- 1 demi-baguette, I like to use Trader Joe’s Ciabatta demi-baguette that is about 9 inches long and 2.5 inches wide
- 3 pieces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
- 6 slices Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp butter, softened
- 6 dried Bing cherries, or other dried cherry or dried berries
- 15-20 pine nuts
- Spinach or Arugula
- Fleur de sel, or sea salt, for sprinkling
- First, cut the baguette into 3 slices lengthwise.If you have a technique for this that you prefer, use it. Here is what I like to do:Over your cutting board, hold the bread vertically. (So the baguette is perpendicular to the cutting board.) Take your knife, and visualize where you need to slice to make three, vertical bread slices out of the baguette. From the front face of the bread, measure a third in, and make your first slice. Put that slice aside. With the remaining two-thirds of the baguette, now make a vertical slice right down the middle. And you are done! You now have three slices of bread. We won’t use the middle piece for the sandwich, so you can save it for a later snack or to make breadcrumbs, croutons, etc.
- Take your two remaining bread slices and place them on the cutting board. We are now going to compile the sandwich!
- Spread the softened butter on one piece of the bread. On the other half, spread the Brie. I basically spread the Brie on the bread like butter, but you can leave it in slices if you prefer.
- Now on the bread half with the butter, take your pine nuts and sprinkle them over the butter. You want the pine nuts to be evenly distributed down the bread so you get some in each bite. Now with your knife or fingers, kind of…well…mash them into the buttered baguette so they stay put! The butter will really help here to keep the pine nuts in place.
- Now to your bread half with the Brie. Place your arugula or spinach over the Brie. Now take your thin apple slices and place them evenly down the bread on top of the greens. Next, take your dried cherries and basically fill in the gaps between apple slices with the dried cherries.
- And last but certainly not least, lightly sprinkle some fleur de sel over one or both sides of the sandwich (or sprinkle sea salt if you don’t have the flaky magnificence of fleur de sel on hand. If you don’t have fleur de sel, you should buy it here!
- Now close the sandwich and enjoy! Or wrap it and bring it to work for lunch, this sandwich travels very well!