We’re in Venice at the moment, staying with my mother, for the Easter holidays. The weather is idyllic and we’ve been enjoying, as a family, those simple rituals, which resonate so strongly of my own childhood – a freshly baked brioche breakfast at our local coffee shop, gentle afternoon strolls along the waterside with a gelato in hand, shopping among the hustle and the bustle of the Rialto Market. And a tramezzino at the bar for elevenses.
I sometimes ponder how it is that the Italian panino - crusty bread roll filled with salami or prosciutto – has morphed and migrated its way into the Anglo-Saxon world, where it is known ubiquitously as panini, some variation on a stale chicken sandwich for sale in any given Starbucks.
It seems that the panino – or some variation on its theme - has gone multi-continental; but the tramezzino remains a well kept Italian secret. And such a good secret. Made with the softest white bread – pan carré. No crust. Never a crust. Filled with egg and mayonnaise and something else tasty: think – tuna, egg and mayonnaise; ham, egg and mayonnaise; artichoke, egg, and mayonnaise. Always cut in the shape of a triangle. And its creamy filling piled up high at the centre, to create that distinctive bump in the middle.
My mind is oddly focused on sandwiches at the moment. You see, Aeneas recently started at nursery – just the one day a week. But to me, it feels like a monumental shift.
The implications of nursery are twofold: firstly, a packed lunch. Traditionally a sandwich of sorts, although sometimes something else portable, like a slice of frittata or quiche. Secondly, guilt. Leaving him - however happy the place (and it is happy – they have a sandbox and glitter), and in the knowledge that it’s for his own good – still leaves me feeling wretched. So, guilt – inevitable and overwhelming – translates to overcompensation. Overcompensation translates to a really, really good packed lunch. All of which brings us back to tramezzini. The very best sandwiches of all. As I said: mind oddly focused on sandwiches.
I saw this recipe for asparagus stuffed devilled eggs the other day, and I thought it would make the most perfect filling for tramezzino. So wonderfully seasonal. The market at the Rialto is brimming with asparagus at the moment, and we have been eating it aplenty for the past week: in risotto, chargrilled with shavings of parmesan, and now in tramezzini – with egg and mayonnaise. Good doesn’t even begin to cover it. Good enough to assuage the guilt of any mother making a packed lunch. And good enough to satisfy even the pickiest little eater.
- 12 asparagus
- 2 heaped tbsps mayonnaise
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices of soft white bread
- Hard boil the eggs: put them in a saucepan and cover with water to a level just above the eggs; set on a medium heat and bring the water to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, drain the water and set the eggs to one side.
- Meanwhile put the asparagus in boiling salted water, and and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Cut off the asparagus heads and set them to one side - I like to add them to the sandwich filling whole, to give a bit of extra texture; blend the rest of the asparagus in a food processor until you have a soft purée.
- Spoon the purée into a small bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix the two together. Peel the eggs and roughly chop them, then add the chopped egg to the mayonnaise, along with the asparagus heads and mix through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut the crusts off the bread, if necessary. Spoon the mayonnaise filling on to a slice of bread, top with a second slice and cut into small triangles. Repeat for the second batch of sandwiches.