This is yummy by itself or to accompany a lonely soup on a gray day.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • 3 or 4 good-sized carrots -- quartered lengthwise and diced (do not peel)
  • 1 beautiful head of cauliflower -- florets separated in to tiny pieces (no large florets should remain), smaller stalks finely diced, discard the main root stalk
  • 1 large bunch (2 - 4 stalks) of broccoli -- stalks sliced lengthwise like carrots and then finely diced, florets separated in to small pieces like the cauliflower.
  • at least 3 cloves of garlic (the more the better), also finely diced
  • dried basil and oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • one large football-sized loaf of Italian bread
  • shredded mozzerella cheese

WHAT YOU'LL DO

Start heating up a large pan or wok, medium high at least. Once heated, add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. A couple of good swirls around the perimeter of the pan should suffice.

Turn on some good music and pour yourself a glass of wine. By the time you've done that, the oil should be hot enough and you can begin.

Carrots go in first because they are denser than the others and stubbornly need a little more time to cook. Move them around in the pan for about three minutes. Add the garlic, broccoli and cauliflower. Saute for another three minutes. If you are stirring frequently, turn the heat to high if you have not done so yet.

Dust the sizzling veggies with basil. Stir it all in. Repeat with the oregano. Grind some black pepper over the top. How much? I don't know -- I just grind until I can smell it. Sprinkle a pinch of salt all over. I use kosher (it's easier to pinch).

Mix it all together and turn the heat down a smidge. Open your oven and place one of the racks squarely in the middle. Turn on the broiler.

Take your Italian bread and slice it horizontally lengthwise as if you were making a really big sandwich, which you are. Put the halves cut side up on a cookie sheet.

Carefully spoon the veggies on to the bread, pressing them in with the back of the spoon each time. Depending on the size of the bread, you'll either have just enough or a little left over. Cover the veggies with the mozz. You can also add cheddar and/or parmesan to the mix. It's all good.

Slide it under the broiler. Keep the oven door open a few inches so you can gauge the progress. You don't want this to become a charred mess. Once the cheese has become golden and melty and bubbly, pull it out, turn off the broiler (I always forget this!) and let it set for a moment.

Call the family to the table. Ladle out soup if you have it. A salad would be nice.

Gently pull apart the halves that have bonded through melted-cheese love. Set one half on a cutting board and cut the sandwich crossways in to roughly three-inch pieces. A substantial chef's knife will facilitate this.

Eat these as you would a pizza, if you want. However, you'll want to supply everyone with a fork to pick up any spillage. Enjoying these will be messy, but that's half the fun.

I used to eat these all the time when I was a poor college student. It has recently made a smashing reappearance in my family's weekly dinner set list. Even my picky 8-year old asks for these.

In case you have left overs, they are good reheated, not so good cold. Combine any leftover veggies with some ricotta to put in calzones.

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