It was the early 1980s. I was back visiting from New York and my friend Jeff invited me out on his parents’ boat for a loooooong day of sailing out to the Channel Islands. His mom, Rose, is pure Italian, raised in Boston’s North End. In other words, if you aren’t eating in front of her, what’s wrong with you? That day on the 30-foot Catalina, it was difficult to grasp where one meal ended and another began, but I was game to try anything she brought up from the cabin below. It all looked good. It all was good.
To this day, the pepper and egg sandwich is one of my very favorites. It’s simple but as delicious as anything you’ll ever eat. When Rose put this in front of us sometime before my stomach decided it didn’t like sailboats, I knew it was a winner because it was served inside chewy, squishy Italian bread. She used just enough (too much) olive oil to soak the bread ever so slightly. I could eat one every day.
Turns out the origins of the pepper and egg sandwich have to do with Lent. Way back when, we Catholics weren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays during this contemplative period after Ash Wednesday and before Easter. I remember having pancakes for dinner on more than one Catholic Friday.
Now, with these sporty girls of ours and their after-school commitments, there are times when I’m lucky to get dinner on the table before 8pm. On those nights, I’ve either thought ahead and something’s in the slow-cooker, or I haven’t thought at all and have to create a meal in a nanosecond. Guess what? Those websites that claim to have a hundred ideas for ten-minute meals? Bullshit. Hogwash. I’ve tried some and it’s never less than twenty. At 7:45 at night, we don’t have twenty. We have five. Enter the pepper and egg sandwich.
You might come across some recipes that call for more than these five ingredients (if you consider salt and pepper just one). I’d say ignore them, though most include Romano cheese and that doesn’t sound half bad. However, this sandwich was meant to be simple and fast – something to chow down on before heading out to the Stations of the Cross.
Served with some potato chips and sliced strawberries, you really can have dinner on the table in no time.
Italian Pepper and Egg Sandwiches (serves 4)
extra virgin olive oil (at least 2 Tablespoons)
2 green bell peppers, chopped
6 large eggs, scrambled
long loaf of Italian or French bread (or you can use hoagie/submarine rolls)
salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add the olive oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Sauté the green peppers until softened and just turning brown. Stir in the eggs and cook through. Season generously with salt and pepper. Slice the bread lengthwise and fill with the pepper and eggs. Cut into four sandwiches.
The best. The easiest.