Wake up to a Mediterranean Sandwich (Recipe from the Falcon Lake Deli)

I just saw a Subway billboard that read, “A great sub ahead of time! Now open at 7am.” I wondered, “Who wants a sub at 7am???”

Then I remembered the first Saturday I waited tables at my parents’ Falcon Lake Deli. They wanted me there at 9am. I didn’t have a clue why they needed a waitress in the morning when they didn’t even serve breakfast.

I got there early for a “relaxing” chat with my parents. Over coffee mom sautéed veggies for soup and measured mayo, mustard and vinegar for potato salad while dad stocked the front.

The Open Sign was flipped at 9am. Customers wandered in. As I expected, they came for the deli cooler full of everything needed to make simple but hearty cottage lunches.

They were also there to talk with my dad. He shaved pastrami and asked if the fish were biting on Barren Lake. He scooped coleslaw and told a story involving a snowmobile, a lake, a tow truck and a lucky bakery owner. He weighed chunks of cheese and joked about the caterpillars that had covered cottages in the spring. He rang up purchases, smiled and meant it when he said, “Have a great weekend!”

I wasn’t surprised that my dad’s deli counter was busy. I was surprised to find myself crazy-busy. It started with the odd hiker sitting outside to order a coffee and then suddenly I had five tables full of cottagers and campers ordering sandwiches.

Clubhouses, Reubens, Portobello Melts, Roast Pork, El Toro Wraps, Chicken Salad Caesar Wraps, Mediterranean Sandwiches. All these sandwiches? Really? At 10am? I guess their rational was, “Why go out for breakfast when you can go to the deli for some awesome awesomeness instead?”

I was run off my feet that first Saturday morning and every other work day that summer. And, you can bet your butt I ate a my share of sandwiches for breakfast.

Maybe a sub at 7am isn’t that weird after all.

The Mediterranean Sandwich

Serves 4

The original Falcon Deli Med uses shaved turkey breast (3 oz. per person). We don’t tend to eat a lot of lunch meat these days and so I make it using breaded chicken cutlets. Feel free to substitute with lunch meat or any leftover cooked poultry.

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (light or regular)
  • 4 finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (about 1/4 cup, chopped). If they’re the dry kind (i.e., not packed in oil), pour 1 cup boiling water over them and allow them to plump up for 15 minutes. Save the liquid to add to pasta sauce, stocks or soups.
  • 1 tbsp pesto (or 1 tsp dried basil or 6 finely chopped basil leaves)
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 4 chicken breast scallopinis (or thin chicken breasts), about 2/3 of a pound total
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-foot long ciabatta loaf
  • 4 slices of red onion
  • 4-5 roasted peppers from a jar, drained (about 1 cup)
  • 8 slices of cucumber
  • 4 leaves of romaine, center rib removed (or a cup of spinach or other greens)

Make a sandwich spread by combining the mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

On a piece of wax paper (or in a large pie plate) combine the panko, salt, black pepper, dried basil leaves and dried oregano leaves.

Moisten a chicken scallopini under cold running water. Shake off the excess water and then lay the chicken piece onto the crumbs. Using the full palm of your hand, press down on the chicken. Flip it over and press down again. Transfer the panko-coated chicken to a large plate. Repeat with the other chicken pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breaded chicken cutlets in a single layer. Cook until the crumbs are well-browned on the underside (about 4-5 minutes). Flip the chicken pieces over. Place one quarter of the cheese onto the browned side of each chicken cutlet. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until chicken is white in the middle if you cut through with a knife.

Meanwhile, place the ciabatta loaf onto a cutting board. With the knife moving parallel to the board, slice through the entire length of the loaf.

Slather both cut surfaces of the loaf with the sandwich spread (you want a good coating but it’s unlikely that you’ll need all the spread. I use about 3/4 of it, saving the rest to jazz up another day’s lunch).

Onto the bottom slab of ciabatta loaf, place the chicken cutlets, cheese-side-up, in a single layer. Top with the onion, roasted peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and the top slab of ciabatta. Hold the sandwich gently as you cut on the diagonal into 4 equal pieces (easiest way is to cut it in half first and then cut each half in half. You may want to secure each quarter of sandwich with a toothpick prior to cutting). Take a bite and wash it down with a swig of coffee.

Note: My mom says you can add more of any of the veggies or consider also including some tomato slices, olives or bell pepper rings.

But she warns, “The higher it is, the bigger your mouth has to be to eat it!”

Hmmm…I guess I can add as much as I want then.


Check out the other posts in My Family’s Food and Restaurant History:

Find out what the upcoming themes will be on Cook the Story and check out which themes I’ve covered in the past.


Get recipes and info about ciabatta at Foodista:



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  1. #1 by Katerina on February 16, 2011 - 11:56 am

    I love the flavors. They are so familiar to me. Beautiful sandwich.

  2. #3 by lisaiscooking on February 16, 2011 - 6:43 pm

    The breaded chicken looks great on this sandwich! It’s good to know that sandwiches are well-liked in the morning. Your parents’ deli sounds like a fun place to be in the morning too.

  3. #4 by Barry on February 16, 2011 - 7:07 pm

    We just got home and haven’t had dinner yet. I have to tell you that as I am reading and looking at the pictures, my mouth is watering. Great looking sandwich.

  4. #6 by Barry on February 17, 2011 - 8:21 am

    Great story and fabulous pictures

  5. #8 by Sherry on March 7, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    Looks yummy! Did I ever tell you one of the best chicken salad sammies I ever had was at the FL Deli when you worked there? I forget why it was so good…Did it have grapes in it? Multi-grain bread? Whatever; it was yummy! Wish we’d gone there more.

    • #9 by cookthestory on March 7, 2011 - 6:17 pm

      Yeah, they make awesome chicken salad. It’s really basic though. Chicken breast cooked only as long as it needs to be cook through but still juicy, mixed with celery and mayo. Mayo on the bread, lettuce, tomato and cucumber as toppings. It would have been served on bread that had been baked that morning at the next door bakery. That always makes a difference. (Sorry family for giving out our secrets!)

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