Vegetable Fritto Misto Panino is a fancy term for Fried Vegetable Sandwiches. These sandwiches can be made using squash blossoms, squash, mushrooms or, as in this recipe, baby artichokes, asparagus and okra. When these panino are dressed with Garlic Aioli and topped with a fresh basil leaf and goat cheese, you will experience an explosion of flavors and textures. If you are not a fan of the earthy flavor of goat cheese, substitute fresh, creamy mozzarella.
If you do not have a deep fryer like the Presto Pro Fry, you can use a deep Dutch oven but you will need a candy thermometer that clips to the side of the vessel to assure that you can maintain the oil at a boiling temperature of between 350 – 375F.
Advance preparation will make the frying process seamless. Have all vegetables cut and patted dry, have the batter mixed and resting, and have the paper-towel-lined baking sheet ready for the finished products.
Vegetable Fritto Misto Panino
(Adapted from several recipes in The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, 2013)
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sparkling spring water (such as San Pellegrino)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp fine sea salt or Kosher salt
8 baby artichokes
12 okra pods, stem end cut off
12 asparagus tips (top 1/3rd only)
Vegetable oil for frying
Coarse sea salt for serving
1 large crusty Italian bread loaf
2 large tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch-thick
8 oz. soft goat cheese
6 thin slices prosciutto
6 fresh basil leaves
Garlic Aioli (see recipe below)
Prepare deep fryer for 375F frying.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water, eggs, and fine sea salt to make a smooth batter about the consistency of a heavy cream. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 – 30 minutes.
To prepare the artichokes, using your fingers or a small paring knife, strip any tough outer leaves from the artichokes. Slice off the top third and then cut them lengthwise into quarters.
Have a paper towel-lined baking sheet for draining.
Dip the artichoke pieces in the batter and then transfer them directly into the hot oil. Fry the artichokes in batches, taking care not to crowd the fryer, for 2 minutes; use a fork to turn them and fry for another 2 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Transfer the artichokes to the prepared baking sheet. Fry the okra pods and asparagus tips, turning them once as they cook.
When all of the vegetables have been fried, season them with coarse sea salt.
To prepare the panino (sandwiches): Dress both cut surfaces of the bread loaf with garlic aioli. Place a slice of prosciutto on each, a slice of tomato, a generous slice of goat cheese, and a basil leave on each. Select a variety of fried vegetables and place them on each sandwich. Serve immediately.
Makes about 2 cups
1 large egg
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the egg, mustard, mayonnaise, garlic and lemon in a food processor and pulse until smooth. In increments of 2 tablespoons at a time, add the oil to the aioli and pulse until the mixture is emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use and for up to 3 days.