Odds are that we’ll never get to hang out with Weird Al Yankovic, but if we can’t ever sit down for an extended accordion jam session with the music legend, we’ll always have the next-best thing — a sandwich that puts Weird Al’s oddball spirit between two pieces of bread and piles on a bunch of eggplant, mushrooms, sprouts and other stuff.
Over at AVclub.com, they know how to ask the important questions. Namely, “If a deli named a sandwich after you, what would be on it?”
Take it away, Al.
“I’d say a fire-roasted eggplant, some roasted red peppers, diced heirloom tomatoes, some thin-sliced red onions—maybe double up on the onions and have some caramelized onions on top of the sliced onions. A little basil, some arugula, some chopped and marinated mushrooms, maybe a slice of fresh avocado, some alfalfa sprouts, a dose of hummus, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and put it on a warm toasted French roll lovingly sprinkled with some truffle oil.”
Challenge accepted. You want a sandwich like that, Al? You’ll get one, because we here at Consumerist are nothing if not generous of heart and hungry of stomach.
But first, we had to go grocery shopping.
Meeting Our Cast Of Characters: The Ingredients
We found most everything we needed at one store, including ingredients for pomegranate molasses — sugar, lemon juice and pomegranate juice — because who’s going to need pomegranate molasses on hand on a regular basis? Maybe Weird Al, but not Boss Meg and not yours truly.
Some Necessary Tweaks
Three things we did change from his recipe that we felt could be tweaked, based on availability/price:
We used tomatoes on the vine for lack of heirloom tomatoes at the local grocery store, because farmer's markets aren't always open when you and Weird Al need them to be.
We substituted white truffle-flavored olive oil for straight up liquid gold. The pure stuff is meant for people who own yachts.
We bought delicious, freshly baked Italian bread instead of French, because with all those ingredients, you need a wider base.
Now Back To Making The Sandwich
First, we got the pomegranate molasses going, combining pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a pan, stirring it until the sugar dissolved and then letting it simmer.
We used a recipe that called for 70 minutes of cooking time, which we got darn close to. But it’s good to keep an eye on the stuff and not let it foam up too much at the end, or you’ll end up with pomegranate candy. Let’s just say we walked the line on this one.
A word to the wise: Your finished product will be very, very sticky, so make sure to have a container handy for cooling purposes that you don’t really care about. We cracked a cheap glass.
In the meantime, we chopped and sliced up our various veggies, and took on big questions like, “How the heck do you fire-roast eggplant?”
This Is How You Fire Roast An Eggplant
1. Buy a male eggplant, said the Internet, after we’d already bought an eggplant, unaware that eggplants have a sex.The key, apparently, is the “belly button” on the bottom — the males have a rounder spot, while the females have a more elongated scar. The males aren’t as bitter as the females, as they typically contain fewer seeds.
2. Slice the eggplant lengthwise.
3. Cover each piece in salt and let ’em sweat things out for about 10 minutes.
4. Shake off the salt and brush some olive oil on both sides of each piece.
5. Fire up the grill and roast away until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes on each side (we also threw our red peppers on toward the end, because they cook pretty quickly).
Putting It All Together
With the number of ingredients involved in a sandwich of this undertaking, you can’t just throw everything on there and expect it to cooperate when you put it in your mouth.
While we layered everything very carefully so as not to overburden the mouth with any one flavor, we basically winged it on the order of ingredients, after deciding that the hummus and the mushroom tapenade, as we came to call it, should serve as the glue on either side of the toasted bread.
Isn’t she lovely?
She’s lovely, and she can be yours, Weird Al. She can be yours. But first, we had to eat this thing.
Tell Me What It Tasted LikeImage courtesy of Consumerist
This is a big sandwich. There were three of us chowing down on it, at about 11:30 at night after roughly 2.5 hours of prep work, most of which was the cooking time for the molasses. And we were hungry. So hungry.
But could this vegan sandwich be enough to satisfy three meat eaters — MBQ, Boss Meg and Boss Meg’s Fiance Marc?
Surprisingly delicious for something that seemed like an arbitrary list of individually delectable items.
It could, and it did. While we thought all those ingredients might combine into some fearsome, odd-tasting combination of flavors, we were overjoyed to find that it was delicious, all agreed, and no one got up to make a plate of bacon afterward.
“I wish this hadn’t taken me three hours to make because I would really like to eat it more often,” I probably said while making my way through my colossal third of the loaf.
“The sandwich was surprisingly delicious for something that seemed like an arbitrary list of individually delectable items,” Boss Meg notes. “I was surprised by how well the pomegranate syrup paired with arugula, onions, hummus, truffle oil, etc, because at face value it sounded questionable.”
Meanwhile, Marc was too busy stuffing his face to take notes.
Although we all filled our bellies to the breaking point with this gargantuan effort of sandwich love, making this particular assemblage of ingredients isn’t likely to happen again, due to the time it took to prep all the ingredients. Next time, we’re splurging on a bottle of pre-made pomegranate molasses, that’s for sure.
That is unless, of course, Mr. Weird Al himself would like us to make it for him.
Was it busy? Yes. But it also gave us ideas for about eight other delicious sandwiches you could make using some of the ingredients and perhaps adding others.
It’s all for you, Weird Al.
While Weird Al might not have seriously considered that the sandwich that sprung forth from his brain that day would ever come into existence, we can say now that it has, and we are more than ready to repeat the experience and deliver a fresh sandwich upon request. Your place or ours, Al?
If you’re Weird Al and you’re reading this, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com, and we will totally invite you to Consumer Reports headquarters for a sandwich.