People survive on weird things in college.

I had a friend who’d buy Kool-Aid, bologna and Bunny Bread at the start of each week and make them stretch like the loaves and fishes. Only with less miracle and more scurvy.

I wasn’t giving Alice Waters a run for her money then, either. After a particularly memorable meal of warmed veggie burger topped with spaghetti sauce, I decided I HAD to learn how to cook.

Or remember to buy more peanut butter.

One of my first homemade triumphs was this Veggie Sandwich with Vinaigrette, a 20-inch roasted vegetable sub that could be divided into four sandwiches.

You start by whisking together a very simple vinaigrette made with things you probably have right now, like olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic.

Then, you fill a large baking dish with eggplant or zucchini rounds (whatever’s on sale), red bell pepper strips and sliced onions; pour most of the vinaigrette over the top and roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, until they’re tender and the zucchini has absorbed most of the vinaigrette.

When the veggies are done, you’re ready to put the sandwich together. Just split your baguette (the $1 ones at the grocery’s bakery are perfect), brush the insides with your reserved vinaigrette, and pile on the lettuce, roasted vegetables, cheese, tomato and basil.

This sandwich is a winner, even when the vegetables aren’t at their peak, because roasting the zucchini, red pepper and onion enhances their flavors, and the extra vinaigrette brushed inside the baguette adds a punch of bold, tangy bite that brings everything together.

It’s also a great sandwich for experimentation. Add avocado slices, sprouts, goat cheese or cucumber slices. Replace the roasted vegetables with fried green tomatoes. Use whole grain hoagie rolls or focaccia instead of the baguette. Trade the vinaigrette on the bread for a flavored mayo or olive relish.

Beats bologna and Bunny Bread any day.

Veggie Sandwich with Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Moosewood Collective’s “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics”

Makes 3 or 4 servings (depending on the size of the baguette)

    Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, rosemary or thyme
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
    Sandwich:

  • 1 (1/2-pound) eggplant, peeled and sliced (Or use a small zucchini or squash, and don’t peel.)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper, about 1
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 20-inch baguette
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped lettuce (or your choice of greens)
  • 4 slices (1/2 cup grated) cheese (recommended: mozzarella, Provolone or feta)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced tomatoes, about 2
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, whole or chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients, and set aside.
  3. Spread the eggplant (or zucchini or squash) rounds on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or larger. Add the red bell pepper strips and onions, trying to keep the vegetables in a single layer.
  4. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette, and pour the rest over the vegetables.
  5. Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, until the eggplant or zucchini is very tender.
  6. To Serve Now: When the vegetables are done, split the baguette in half lengthwise. Brush the inside of each half with the reserved vinaigrette. Layer the bottom half of the baguette with the lettuce, place the eggplant rounds along the length of the loaf, and cover with the bell pepper strips and onions. Top with the cheese, tomato slices and basil. Cover with the other baguette half, and slice to make sandwiches.
  7. To Eat Some Now, Some Later: When the vegetables are done, slice as much of the baguette as you’ll need for the sandwich(es) you’re serving immediately (about 6 inches per person). Follow the same directions as in step 6, using just the amount you need for this meal. Then store the remaining cooked vegetables and baguette separately to make a fresh sandwich later.

Vegan Adaptation: Skip the cheese, or use a vegan alternative.