Fig and Mozzarella Warm Sandwich Recipe

Fig and Mozzarella Warm Sandwich on Chocolate & Zucchini

I could eat sandwiches at every meal. This is probably because I adore bread, but also because nothing beats holding your food in your hands and biting greedily into it. Elegant? No. Messy? Yes. But oh-so-satisfying!

Sandwich making, however, is an art that very few food outlets master. Cardboard bread, processed chicken, limp lettuce, mayo overdose, this is what you have to face most of the time. And it shouldn’t be that difficult really: decent bread and a few good-quality ingredients, in an interesting and sound combination. Are my expectations too high?

Besides the traditional jambon-beurre (a half-baguette sandwich garnished with butter and ham), I think sandwiches are just not part of the French food culture. Most people think of sandwiches as a way to eat a cheap and fast lunch, setting aside all considerations of quality and taste. And of course a good sandwich, as described above, is not cheap to make, so it may just be a supply and demand thing: if people are not willing to pay for a good sandwich, well, let them eat crap.

So I very rarely buy sandwiches, unless I am in the vicinity of one of my trusted sources (Boulangépicier, Cojean) and I will often take matters into my own hands when the urge strikes. This is how today’s featured sandwich came to life: I came home from work, positively famished, with visions of sandwiches dancing in my head, composing themselves with the ingredients I had on hand. Little loaves of bread and figs from the freezer, buffalo mozzarella and pesto from the fridge, and basil from the window sill herb garden. Quickly assembled, quickly baked in the oven, quickly scarfed down.

A moment of pure, scrumptious enjoyment. The bread gets crispy in the oven, and the ingredient combo is simple and beautiful : sweet figs, soft mozzarella, fragrant basil and tasty pesto. This was so earth-shatteringly good that I couldn’t get enough of it, and actually made it three times in five days, until I was forced to stop for lack of supplies. Otherwise there’s a good chance I’d be eating one as I type.

Fig and Mozzarella Warm Sandwich

– 4 bread rolls (about 60 g each)
– a ball of buffalo mozzarella
– 3 ripe figs
– 12 leaves fresh basil
– 4 tsp thick pesto (a little less if very oily), such as this pesto de roquette
– salt, pepper

(Serves 4.)

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Sl the loaves open. Slice the mozzarella. Wash and quarter the figs. Rinse and pat dry the basil leaves. Spread the top half of each loaf with a teaspoon of pesto. On the bottom half of each loaf, lay a fourth of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add three fig quarters and three basil leaves. Put the tops back on.

Transfer the sandwiches to a baking dish, and put it into the oven for about 10 minutes, until they are heated through and the bread starts to get crispy. Let rest on the counter for a couple of minutes, and serve.

  • Hi Clotilde,

    Super Sandwich. I agree with you about french sandwiches. However, I’ve found an Italian Deli in Nogent S/M where they make them in front of you so that they are really fresh. They use Ciabatta bread and you can choose your filling. The other day the owner was complaining that people sometime complain because they don’t understand they have to wait for it. After 4 pm you can buy his left over ciabatta bread and they are fantastic.
    Have a good week end.
    PS : are your figs from Picard ?

  • Alisa

    ….and if the figs are from Picard, did you defrost them first? Neet to know. I am on my way, to gather all said ingredients, and begin a sandwich making frenzy.

  • Pascale and Alisa – Yup, the figs were from Picard, and I did defrost them first. Those figs *taste* really good, but like most frozen fruit, they can’t be relied on to look as pretty as fresh figs : when you defrost them they take on a slightly brownish color, so they’re best used cooked, or hidden in a compote or sandwich!

  • josie

    a very interesting combination, I must say… mm, when I think of sandwiches, my mind keeps conjuring up the image of a Philadelphia cream cheese/ blackberry jam combo on brown bread. delicious.

  • Greg

    Wonderful! The figs are beginning to ripen on the trees here in New Orleans, by next week I’ll have fresh ones to use in this sandwich. I was wondering what to do with all of the extras that I’m not using for jam. Thanks!

  • Trinker

    I remember enjoying casse-croute in French Polynesia…and a tongue sandwich at Fouquet in Paris. Are these really atypical?

  • Beautiful! Interestingly, the fig & mozzarella sandwiches were a huge hit last year in, eh, my house. Actually it was more like fig & cheese on toast; put slices of figs on a slice of bread of your choice, cover with slices of cheese of your choice (I preferred mozzarella) on top, and toast it till the cheese melts. Fresh figs would have been better, but I missed the season so I used fig jam, which worked fine. It was originally a hot pressed sandwich, but the friend of mine who first told me about it said that the open-face style was fine, too.
    Anyways, I have never tried the sandwich with pesto, so I will definitely try that version next time I get either fresh figs or jam!

  • Damn. That might be the most beautiful sandwich I’ve ever seen. I nearly licked the screen.

  • aru

    i was really inspired after i read your post. so i made my own sandwich once i got home from work. i had picked up a few onion bagel’s from real mccoy – i still have to check if it has one single ‘c’ or two!! anyway, back to the sandwich, i cut the bagel in half and put each side on a heated pan for a few minutes. i then generously spread cream cheese on both sides and places stripes of sun-dried tomatoes, dripping in olive oil and sprinkled a pinch of gros sel and pepper on top.

    that was washed down with a damn good mojito! i know, weird combo….but it WAS 19h, donc – l’heure de apero!! besides, one doesn’t need much of an excuse to down a mojito in this boiling hot weather!! ;)

  • Alisa

    What a success! Saturday lunch: your sandwich, recipe followed to the “T”; arugula salad with an orange juice laced, vinigrette; fresh cantalope type, melon. The words, “this is the best lunch ever”, were repeated over and over, by everyone.

    Thank you so so so much. Since moving to Paris, it has taken me a while to be the cook that I was in Los Angeles. C&Z has been the best inspiration and guide. I am incredibly grateful.

  • Clotilde,

    That sounds like a wonderful sandwich. I used to work at a little gourmet sandwich shop in New England and they had all sorts of fabulous sandwiches. I’ll share my favorite:
    “Freudian Slip”
    – high quality sliced ham, we used Boar’s Head brand, sliced thin and about 0.25lbs
    – Honeycup Mustard, or a strong, sweet, and spicy honey mustard (but Honeycup is the best)
    – herbed cream cheese
    – fresh spinach, washed
    -sourdough bread, but it also tastes just wonderful on Anadama bread or a good baguette.

    Take two slices of bread. Spread some cream cheese on one side, the Honeycup mustard on the other. Place the spinach on the side of the mustard, and the ham on top of the cream cheese. Bring together, slice and enjoy. It’s an unusual combination, but one of my very favorites.

  • I have to admit, the prosepct of this sandwich combined with figs now being available at my local farmer’s market (my last trip there before I moved to the coast to find a new one) inspired me! VEry tasty along with a bulgar wheat and cucumber salad.

  • Josie – Excellent combo indeed, will have to try that!

    Greg, Aru, Alisa and Redbeard – Ever-so-delighted this inspired you!

    Trinker – (In metropolitan French, “casse-croute” just means snack, or small lunch. It seems to be a Polynesian specialty.) Sandwiches are not atypical at all, they’re very common, I just meant that they’re not considered a glorious part of our cuisine, and they’re usually not given much thought…

    Chika – Great minds think alike! I’ll have to remember the fig jam tip!

    Kris – Wow, that sandwich sure sounds delicious! Intriguing name, too! Any explanation I don’t see?

  • Peter


    I just found your website, so this post is a bit late…the sandwich sounds wonderful!

    The Silver Palate cookbook has a sandwich I like very much (this is from memory, so I might have missed something): Into a baguette sliced longways you put figs, prosciutto, gorgonzola cheese, and basil cut in a chiffonade, and drizzle the basil with olive oil, and maybe grind some pepper on top. Then wrap it in foil and bake it in the oven until it’s warm and the cheese is just melty.

  • Peter – Mmm, love gorgonzola, this sounds like an excellent variation! And I like the cooking in foil idea…

  • Reading this post and the comments last night in bed, I was cravingly acking for an unusual tartine like this. So for lunch, I thought I’d go through my fridge and try to follow the ideas that I had read the night before. Looking back, it seems that I had already (unconciously) altered the ingredients/combination in my head. It turned out to be *really* good though. Here’s what I found and how I assembled:

    Take 2 thick slices of dark St. Galler bread (moist and very crusty)
    Smear one side with some cream cheese (I used St. Moret)
    Smear the other side with fig marmelade.
    Layer flat-leaf parsley on the cream cheese (I would have loved to use rucola here, for extra spicyness, but I didn’t have any lying around)
    Layer thinly sliced Italian-style Mortadella (with pistachio) on there
    Put a few slices of relatively strong, bitter type hard cheese on top of the marmelade (I used sharp Swiss gruyere (Extra), great taste and relatively cheap in Zurich ;-) )

    Put the two slices of bread together.

    The combination of the cheeses with the mortadella and the fig marmelade was surprisingly good. I hardly prepare myself something that I am reluctant to eat, I tend to cook my own signature ‘decouvertes’ (even though they might be not run-of-the mill either) over and over again but this reminded me that I need to start experimenting more over again.

  • Thanks for this wonderful combination of flavors in a sandwich! I made this for lunch today and it was simply the perfect light lunch.

  • Maria Jesus

    Hi Clotilde! This is my first recipe from your blog….and I almost cried.
    I just LOVE this sandwich!!! thank you thank you thank you…
    By the way, I made a tiny change, and was very tasty too: instead pesto, try tapenade….

    • Tapenade must work really well indeed. Happy you liked your sandwich!

  • Rachel

    I just made these sandwiches for lunch today, and they were delightful! We had them with a cup of vegetable soup and thought it the most wonderful, warming fall lunch. Thank you. Now I have a recipe that will get me to eat real figs, not just Fig Newtons!

    • I’m delighted, thanks for reporting back!

  • That looks like an incredible summer sandwich. I just picked up some figs at the farmer’s market…now i just need some cheese : )

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