Growing up in Ohio, we had an electric range in my kitchen. I knew of nothing else and was comfortable with the four red-hot coils.
Moving to Chicago, an electric range in your kitchen meant your apartment was owned by someone from Ohio. It was unheard of. I don’t think I saw a single one the four years I lived there. Every kitchen in Chicago has a gas range. At first, they scared the bejeezus out of me. A flame! An actual flame in my kitchen?! But I eventually warmed up to the turning of the dial, the clicking and the small explosion of fire that consumed my pan. I learned to cook over a gas flame. I loved the control, the speed, and the consistency. But I was afraid of the broiler drawer.
Then I moved to Indiana: Home of the Electric Range II. Suddenly, all the dishes I could cook with my eyes closed were burning. Chicken breasts had a black skin. My Calpholon pans – branded with a spiral. I HATED ELECTRIC RANGES!! The only thing good about them is the storage drawer under the oven and in-oven easy broiling. I had a broiler revolution my first year here. I was toasting bread, roasting red peppers, and cooking fish. I had mastered the broiler!
Then we moved into our new house and I INSISTED on a gas range. I didn’t read the owner’s manual, I just dove right in. I feel like an old pro sauteing over my easily adjustable gas flame. I can scramble an egg in the time it takes an electric burner to just heat up. I am in heeaavennnn. Then I came across this recipe. Broiling required. Oh crap. I got down on my knees and literally stuck my head in the oven. “I have a storage drawer,” I thought, “So where the heck do I broil?” I turned on the broiler (after I removed my head) and voila! Furious flames shot across the ceiling of my oven. Modern cooking technology has embraced me! I can have the best of both worlds! Then I promptly made this dish which took almost no time at all.
Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts
Adapted from Annie’s Eats. Originally from Everyday Food, March 2008.
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 portobello mushrooms (stems removed), cleaned and sliced ½-inch thick
2 red bell peppers (or as you can see, I used yellow), seeded and sliced ½-inch thick
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
4 thick slices country or italian bread
2-4 oz. provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat broiler (I used the high setting. In retrospect, I should have used the low setting) and place rack 4 inches from the heat source.
Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil. Add broccoli to the pan, drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss around to make sure the broccoli is coated evenly. Broil for 3-4 minutes and remove pan from oven.
Add mushrooms and peppers to the pan, drizzle with remaining olive oil and season again with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Broil for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times, remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, spread about a tablespoon of pesto on each slice of bread and top with 1 slice of provolone. Divide broiled vegetables on top of each slice of bread and top with a half slice of provolone.
Remove old aluminum foil from baking pan and reline with fresh foil. Place assembled sandwiches on baking sheet and broil for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.