Last week when a dear friend sent me the recipe for Ruth Reichl’s balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches, I immediately bought a baguette and set to work slicing, brushing, and roasting the various purple globes collecting on my counter. The result — an unfussy, completely delicious sandwich — sent me racing back to the store, but this time I skipped past the bakery. The local baguettes, I’m afraid, require gnawing with all one’s might.
If you have access to a great bakery, a fresh baguette, ciabatta roll, or focaccia would all work well here. If you don’t, consider making your own rolls. These are a simple variation of the peasant bread recipe — in essence the peasant bread is getting the Lahey treatment: the yeast has been cut way back and the rise extended to overnight (or about 12 hours).
Here’s a thought: if you take 5 minutes to mix the dough together this evening, you will be rewarded with the makings of a super-simple Friday night dinner, delicious vessels fit for flanking whatever your heart desires, but may I suggest balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula? It’s so good.
This is what the dough looks like after a 12-hour rise:
Punch it down on a well-floured surface, and portion it out:
Shape the portions into rough balls and transfer to a baking sheet:
Bake for 20 minutes:
Once cool, the rolls can be halved and filled as you please.
Here My Mother’s Peasant Bread recipe gets the Lahey treatment: yeast cut way back, rise extended for many hours (about 12). Sugar has also been omitted. The dough is super wet, so go big on the flour—seriously, don’t hold back. I have been making these for these balsamic-roasted eggplant and arugula sandwiches.
- 4 cups (512 g) unbleached all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup (32 g) for shaping
- 2 teaspoons (7 g) kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) instant yeast
- 2 cups (439 g) cold water (tap is fine)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the 4 cups flour, salt, and instant yeast. Add the water. Mix with a rubber spatula to form a wet, sticky dough ball. Cover bowl with a tea towel or bowl cover and leave to rise at room temperature overnight or for up to 12 hours.
- The following morning (or after about 12 hours), the dough will have risen and its surface will be covered with bubbles. Line a sheetpan with parchment paper or a Silpat. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Spread the 1/4 cup flour over a work surface. Dump the dough out onto the surface. Using as much flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the board and your knife or dough scraper, divide the dough into 6 roughly equal portions. Again, using as much flour as necessary on your hands and work surface, shape each portion into a rough ball. Use two hands to stretch each ball gently into a rectangle—doesn’t have to be perfect—and transfer to prepared sheetpan, spacing evenly. Let shaped rolls rise for 20 minutes.
- Transfer pan to the oven. Bake 15 minutes. Rotate pan. Bake 5 minutes more or until nicely golden. Transfer rolls to cooling rack to cool completely.