I’m always looking for new things to try for lunch, just to mix it up a bit, and made a total winner with this chicken, goat cheese, fennel, apple and spinach sandwich with walnut-raisin spread! The flavors complement each other beautifully, especially with the chicken being oven-roasted and the fennel thinly shaved and lightly pickled. I will absolutely be adding this to our regular lunch rotation!
Give yourself about a half hour to make this wonderful sandwich.
2 sandwich rolls or sections of baguette, sliced open
1/2 small bulb of fresh fennel
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 oz soft goat cheese
1/2 cup roasted chicken meat, torn into chunks (easiest to use store-bought roast chicken)
1 quarter of a crisp apple (any variety), cored and sliced thinly
8-10 leaves fresh spinach
First of all, pickle the fennel. Using a mandoline if you have one, shave the fennel as thinly as possible until you have about a cup of shavings. (Note: if you don’t have a mandoline, this is a great one from William Sonoma)
In a bowl large enough to hold the fennel, put the salt, sugar, red wine vinegar and hot water. Mix until blended. Add the fennel and ensure the liquid covers the shavings.
Secondly, make the spread. Put the raisins in a bowl and cover with hot water, and allow them to plump while you toast the walnuts. In a dry pan over medium-high heat, toast the walnuts (turning often) until you can smell them and see a few medium-brown spots, indicating they are toasted. Do not let them burn, or your spread will taste very bitter. Remove the walnuts from the heat immediately and put in the bowl of a mini food processor. Drain the raisins and add to the processor, along with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Puree until ingredients come together (it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth). Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Now you are ready to assemble the chicken, goat cheese, fennel, apple and spinach sandwiches! On the bottom half of each of your rolls or baguette section, spread the goat cheese in an even layer. Top the goat cheese with about 1/3 of the spread on each sandwich (reserve the rest for the top half of the sandwich). Layer the chicken pieces on top of the spread. Drain the fennel and press lightly in a paper towel to remove the excess liquid, then mound half on each sandwich. Top with apple slices and spinach leaves. Divide the remaining spread between the two top halves of the bread and spread evenly, and place atop the other ingredients to close the sandwich.
Serve immediately with any leftover apple slices as a snack!