When fresh seasonal produce is scarce, preserved foods can save the day. Here, intensely lemony (and garlicky) black olive tapenade offsets earthy beets turned succulent through slow cooking in olive oil. Fresh and dried herbs, sweet roasted peppers from a jar, and tender baby spinach make for flavorful finishing touches. With this many layers, sandwiches for dinner are no joke.
Note: We recommend making the beet confit the day before you plan to make the sandwich, which really makes this dish a snap to assemble.
Beet Confit Winter-Pantry Pan Bagnat
1/2 lb fresh beets (root only), trimmed, peeled, and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1 6-oz can pitted black olives, drained (about 1 1/4 cups)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 umeboshi, pitted (these are very salty preserved plums--we get ours in the Asian section of the co-op)
2 cloves garlic
2 TBSP capers, drained
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil
1 baguette, cut in half lengthwise (as always, we prefer Flour Head)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 roasted peppers (we used jarred red that we already had on hand for ease, but yellow peppers are gorgeous paired with beets), cut into large strips
large handful baby spinach (or any tender green you like)
Place the beets, cut-side down, in a small slow cooker. Pour the 1/4 cup olive oil over and cook on low for 6 hours. When they're done, remove them from the slow cooker and let cool to room temperature (alternately, make the beets a day in advance and simply refrigerate until ready to use). Slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
In a chopper or food processor, combine the olives, lemon juice and zest, 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, red pepper flakes, pitted umeboshi, garlic, capers, and vinegar. Process until you get a textured paste, then stir in the 1 TBSP olive oil.
To assemble: On the bottom half of the baguette, spread the tapenade (it will be a very thick layer). Add the beet confit slices.
Whisk together the garlic powder, 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, and dried oregano, and sprinkle over the beet slices. Lay the pepper slices on top, pile on as much spinach as possible, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Let sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature before serving.