Asparagus Melt with Fontina, Roasted Garlic Aïoli, Basil, Pickled Red Onions, Dried Blueberries, and Focaccia

Adapted by
March 2014
Yield: 8 sandwiches


⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1.4 kilograms all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
22 grams salt
4 grams dry active yeast
1 liter warm water
sea salt
Pickled Red Onions
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup lime juice
½ cup water
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 medium red onion, cut into ¼-inch slices
Roasted Garlic Aïoli
1 head garlic, top removed
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 lemon juice
1 white wine vinegar
¼ Dijon mustard
black pepper
To Assemble and Serve
3 pounds asparagus, trimmed and blanched
4 ounces basil leaves
8 slices young fontina
8 ounces dried blueberries


For the Focaccia:
Pour olive oil into a large bowl. In another large bowl, combine flour, salt, and yeast. Pour in water and stir with a spoon until a sticky dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, briefly knead the dough.  Place dough in the bowl with the olive oil and turn 2 to 3 times so entire surface is coasted. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, heat oven to 400ºF. Remove dough from refrigerator and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. Turn dough, with oil, onto a half sheet pan. Pull and stretch dough until it is evenly distributed. Invert a clean half sheet pan on top and proof 1 hour more. Remove top sheet pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 10 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden brown.

For the Pickled Red Onions:
In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, lime juice, water, salt, and sugar. In a nonreactive container, combine onion and brine. Cover and pickle 4 hours to overnight.

For the Roasted Garlic Aïoli:
Heat oven to 375ºF. Drizzle garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast until soft, 40 to 45 minutes. Squeeze garlic pulp from skin into a small bowl and mash until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil until aïoli is thick. Fold in garlic mash and with salt and pepper.

To Assemble and Serve:
Heat a broiler. Portion Focaccia and slice in half. Spread Roasted Garlic Aïoli on the bread. Layer ingredients on the bottom piece of Focaccia, starting with blueberries and then Pickled Red Onions, basil, asparagus, and Fontina. Place bottom half of sandwich under the broiler to melt cheese. Top with top half of bread and serve.