mediterranean egg sandwich + slow-roasted tomatoes: a panera bread copycat.

copycat panera bread mediterranean egg sandwich.

Two recipes! I thought about throwing the slow roasted tomatoes into a separate post, but I didn’t want to drag things out too much; you already have a separate post for the ciabatta part of this anyway, if you’re interested in making it yourself.

I will not make you do that; this is more about the sandwich and the filling than it is the bread, so I’m not going to beat you over the head and tell you that you need to spend what basically amounts to a week (if you don’t have a sourdough starter already going) to make the bread part of this recipe. I spent too long during my Fear of Yeast years shying away from recipes involving bread-making. Do you have a favorite ciabatta? Great. go get some and I’m betting it will be perfectly lovely for this.

copycat panera bread mediterranean egg sandwich.

This is the Panera Bread copycat I was telling you about: their mediterranean egg sandwich. If you have had it, you know it’s fantastic. In fact, this post could easily turn into one about my deep and abiding love for Panera; that’s how much I adore them. It may not be very foodie-chic of me to profess love for a chain, but I’m not going to fake it and act like I don’t.

Did you know Panera is from St. Louis? It is, thereby making it a local eatery in my eyes. In fact, my fingers are having difficulty typing “Panera” repeatedly, because if you’ve lived here your whole life, you don’t call it that; you call it Saint Louis Bread Company, or “Bread Co” for short. Because it’s ours, thank you.

copycat panera bread mediterranean egg sandwich.

My life has always included frequent trips to Panera, so it’s a sentimental favorite for me. There was one down the street from my house growing up, and we were a family way more likely to grab that for dinner than other fast food options. Lest my mother read this, I’m not implying that we lived solely on fast food: she cooked regularly. However, she was a single working mother with two children, which means yes, sometimes, dinner involved the picking up of food. I still remember back then that the You Pick Two (incidentally, I like to think Panera invented the YPT meal option, and I don’t want to hear if they didn’t. fingers in ears.) was $4.75, which was quite the deal. It was a largely popular lunch spot of ours during high school, I grabbed many a fast meal there during college, and despite the plethora of food options near my old job, I always made a beeline for the Bread Co. I’ve watched their decor modernize from quaint cafe to modern bistro, their menu options rotate from standard to seasonal, and their approach to food become increasingly detail-oriented and fresh. Sure, they’ve had a few tiny fails along the way (anyone remember their short-lived pizza menu? No? It’s probably best), but they’ve managed to roll out successful pastas, side options, drinks, and an entire savory breakfast line while maintaining their signature offerings. What’s more, they’ve always been big on community involvement; I remember being fascinated as a child by their giving any leftover bread to food banks and shelters in the area at the end of the night. Quietly, they’ve made themselves a standout, i feel, among typical “fast casual” restaurants. I’m proud of them.

copycat panera bread mediterranean egg sandwich.

This turned into a Panera cheerfest, and although I didn’t mean it to, they do deserve it. I’ve been a huge fan of their breakfast sandwiches ever since they hit the menu, and this one is a fast favorite of mine. Don’t get me wrong; I’m eternally committed to the straightforward bacon, egg, and cheese ciabatta sandwich, but this mediterranean version was love at first bite. On their menu, it’s an egg white sandwich, and feel free to make it that way: there’s so much flavor in here, you most likely won’t even notice the difference. Yolks or no yolks, it’s going to be delicious, but do use the freshest farm eggs you can find, because you want to match the freshness in the rest of the sandwich.

slow-roasted tomatoes.

Did you see those roasted tomatoes up there? Those are incredible, and they truly deserve a blog post of their own. You can use them for this sandwich, toss them over pasta, as their juiciness basically makes a light sauce for you (take that, one-pan pasta!), or use them in a salad. Want a fast summery appetizer? Toast up some crostini and layer them with goat cheese or ricotta and a little pesto or balsamic. They’re gorgeous, and they taste like you slow-roasted a warm, sunny July evening. To summarize, these tomatoes would be good on anything. Don’t let the 12-hour cooking time deter you: the oven is set to super-low, so your house won’t warm up, and you can always do this overnight so they’re ready by the morning. Feel free to make a whole pan of  these; this recipe only uses a few, but the rest of them can be frozen for months and plucked out for future sauces and sides.

Another great thing about this is that it involves pesto; one of my favorite ways to use up the bumper crops of basil the gardeners among us may be experiencing by now. My garden bursts with it, and I’m missing it on vacation. It’s going to a good home right now in my absence, and I take comfort in that.

Roasted tomatoes adapted from a recipe found on Food In Jars. Sandwich adapted from what I imagine Panera Bread’s mediterranean egg white sandwich to consist of. Let’s say I’ve done “extensive research” on this, and leave it at that. Panera Bread (although I will always call you Bread Co), I love you.

Mediterranean Egg Sandwich + Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

for the roasted tomatoes:

  • Roma tomatoes (you’ll need 9 for this recipe – 3 halves for each sandwich – but feel free to make a whole pan of them, because they freeze really well and you can use them later for sauce)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

for the breakfast sandwiches:

  • 6 large eggs (preferably from your nearest farm, because those are the best)
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 18 of those slow-roasted tomato halves from the recipe above
  • 6 slices Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese
  • fresh basil pesto (I used my own favorite recipe, found here)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, for serving
  • 6 servings of fresh-baked ciabatta (and if you’re using my recipe, it means you can cut one of your loaves lengthwise and then into squares.)
  • a few tablespoons of butter (optional, if you’re toasting your bread in the oven)

Before we begin, I should note that Panera actually makes this as a panini pressed sandwich. I do not have a panini maker, nor do I want one, because I don’t need another appliance running around here. These are perfectly respectable toasted as I make them, but if you want the “panini experience,” make them in your own panini maker or press them using a heated cast iron skillet and something equally heavy to press them down into it, flipping halfway through until both sides are toasted. 

Roast your tomatoes: 

Preheat oven to 200˚F. Line a lipped sheet pan with parchment paper.

Wash and halve your tomatoes and place them insides-up on the prepared pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, being sure to hit each one with it (don’t overdo it), and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Place in the oven and let slowly roast down for 10-12 hours, checking them at maybe the 9-hour point. My tomatoes were done at the 10-hour point, but my sheet pan wasn’t full. They will smell like sun-dried tomatoes and be flat but still juicy. Remove from oven and place on a rack to let cool to room temperature. Use some for the sandwiches, and place the remainder in the freezer for later use.

Prep your ingredients:

You should normally do this as you are reading the instructions, but if you didn’t, consider this the reminder. Eggs don’t stay hot forever, and neither does toast, so have everything ready to go on your counter prior to starting the eggs. Including slicing up your bread.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Get out a sheet pan.

Prepare the eggs:

I hesitate to tell you how to do this, because everyone has their own way of doing an egg for an egg sandwich. For perfect looking round eggs, crack them into metal rings in a heated skillet and let cook until mostly firm, breaking the yolks halfway through. Remove the rings and flip over, allowing to cook to your desired amount of doneness. For these sandwiches, I break the yolk and let it cook because I don’t want the mess. Ordinarily, I love a liquid yolk, so you decide for yourself.

But I’ll stress this: make the eggs in the way you prefer: if you like them poached, poach them. Scramble them. Do whatever, it’s an egg. It will be delicious no matter what.

Meanwhile…

Prepare the toast:

Now if you’re just making one or two sandwiches, great; probably you can use your toaster for this. If not, lightly butter the insides of the ciabatta slices and place them on the sheet pan. Scoot them into the oven for a few minutes until warmed.

Assemble your sandwiches:

Remove your bread from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack on your work station. Spread some of the basil pesto on each of the bread slices (all 12), then top 6 of those slices with some spinach. Top the spinach with three roasted tomato halves, then layer the egg over top, then throw the cheese over the egg. Season as you see fit.

Sandwich the 6 stacked halves with their matching bread and pesto tops and serve immediately.

Obviously there will be no leftovers to store, except for the tomatoes, if you chose to make a giant sheet pan of them. If you did, bravo! You’ll have some excellent tomatoes for sauce. Store them tightly sealed in airtight containers (jars work really well) in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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26 Comments on "mediterranean egg sandwich + slow-roasted tomatoes: a panera bread copycat."

  1. Oh my goodness! Are you for real, Shannon? This is my favorite breakfast from Panera. I treat myself to one each week. I can’t wait to make this at home. You are the best!

    • shannon says:

      yay! Oh it’s so good to hear that someone loves their breakfast sandwiches as much as i do. especially this one; i love the combination of flavors. Thanks, jennie. ;)

  2. I had NO idea that Panera had it’s humble beginnings in St Louis and that it went by a different name. I love that place though. I don’t really consider it fast food, although I guess it obviously is…but on road trips it’s my #1 choice for lunch so it’s a great thing that it’s so prevalent now.

    Anyway, your copycat sandwich looks great! Those roasted tomatoes look AWESOME!!! I have to tell you that I got a panini press for a wedding present and I honostly can’t live without it…mainly because nate wants grilled cheese practically every weekend for lunch. But I do really like it. I do, however, understand not wanting to have another appliance crowding your kitchen!

    • shannon says:

      you know, i don’t consider it “fast food” either, like equal to a Wendy’s or McDonald’s, but i guess it’s called “fast/quick casual” in the way that it’s order and go, and sometimes drive thru, but not burgers and that. i guess their are tiers to restaurants which are more layered than we know. :) i agree: on road trips it’s nice to have a lighter option than what’s normally out there.

      thanks! as soon as we get home, i’m making another huge batch of these roasted tomatoes; they’re SO great to throw on things, and it just condenses all that sweet tomato goodness down, which is great. someday i’ll get a panini press (weddings are SO the time to get “luxury” appliances, right? I KNOW), when i get a bigger kitchen to house said panini press. I think it would be something i’d get into the habit of using were i to have space for it. i can see how nate’s grilled cheese addiction warrants having one, for sure. :)

  3. Dana Staves says:

    Yay! I love Panera. When we were traveling cross-country, and we had eaten too many burgers or Subway sandwiches, the Panera sign was a welcome relief: I could get soup and a good salad and the world would be okay. And this sandwich looks delicious.

    • shannon says:

      Agree! Panera screams “hi! i’m a fresh salad oasis in the midst of burgerville!” when you’re on the road. definitely makes for a better road trip when you’re eating semi-healthy, i think. thanks, Dana. ;)

  4. Ashley says:

    Your photos make me think I can taste those tomatoes in all their luscious glory. Its enough to make me want to slow-roast right now, when all I dream of the rest of the year are juicy, flavorful summer tomatoes… You win, Shannon. And I don’t mind at all.

    It’s so cool Panera is from St. Louis! I didn’t know that, but am totally jealous you had Panera/BreadCo available for years before I became addicted. Their bfast quiches are also heavenly (I blame that on the croissant-style crust, gets me every time), as are their bagels. Oh man, I’m going to over do it next time I go there…

    • shannon says:

      aren’t they like, the most alluring tomatoes you’ve ever seen?!? and the smell….oh, ashley, THE SMELL of them roasting is pure heaven. I did mine over the course of a day when i knew we would be home, but i can imagine how awesome it is to do them overnight and wake up to them the next day. I long for tomatoes all the months they taste like nothing, so this is going to be my new way to savor them for longer. carpe freshness, i say. :)

      it is cool to have things come from your hometown, right? I read on wikipedia that the Au Bon Pain dudes purchased STL Bread Co and then morphed it into Panera, but i can vouch for the menu: it’s squarely from our restaurants. so what you taste is what we had kicking it here for decades. :) the quiches too! that was their first savory breakfast offering, if i remember correctly, and i love those as well. those have to be straight-up croissants in there, right? and the bagels….love them. Every year i make a special run for a *ahem* LOT of cranberry walnut bagels to freeze.

  5. Monica says:

    Shannon – I love myself an egg sandwich! I’ve never had this at Panera Bread but I’m willing to wager your thoroughly homemade version is a ton better! It looks insanely delicious from the homemade ciabatta to the pesto to the roasted tomatoes. There is a lot of joy that happens when you sit down to a perfectly made (preferably, warm) sandwich. This is just lovely…

    • shannon says:

      SSHHHHHHHHHH *don’t let Panera hear you say that* ;) Girl, i know you love an egg, right? And i won’t say my sandwich is better, but it’s definitely spot-on in terms of flavor when matched to theirs. Definitely you don’t miss the Panera sandwich if you were to make this at home…i’ll say that. Well said! SO much joy happens when you sit down to a perfectly made sandwich; it’s the simple things.

  6. OMG PANERA!! I haven’t had this particular sandwich, but next time I’m on vacation I’ll seek it out for sure! So funny, such a tomato-y summer, I just roasted a bunch a couple weeks ago. Roasted tomatoes are pretty much the best thing ever, and I don’t make them nearly enough.

    OMG – Amy’s idea of panini-pressing. YES PLEASE. Ciabatta + pesto + roasted tomato + _____ will always = win. Always.

    Thank you for making me hungry for breakfast at 8:00 pm

    • shannon says:

      it IS a tomato-y summer! and it’s funny you say that because i think we had a summer not too long ago which yielded barely any good ones around the midwest, so i’m happy about this. everyone’s in a tomato frame of mind, and evidently the tomatoes are willing to play ball this year. I can’t believe i’ve never roasted tomatoes until now *smacks face* IDIOT, i am.

      CRAP now i have to go find the convo between you and amy aka the two people who always make me do my replies from the front end of the blog instead of behind the scenes because you have your own conversations. ;)

      as always, you’re welcome.

  7. I want to go to this magical place, this Panera you all speak of. It sounds… well, magical. I must go to the United States of America. I will join a street gang and, as their leader, insist that we eat exclusively at Panera.

    Also, that sammy? Oh, that sammy! GAH! Egg? Roasted tomatoes? Pesto? CIABATTA??!!

    My head just exploded.

    • shannon says:

      You must come to the United States of America: just think of the bounty we have here! Paneras on every corner. And, because of the community outreach they do, they’ll have no problem welcoming a street gang leader for breakfast or lunch. Your underlings will REALLY enjoy ganging much more with full stomaches, for sure.

      *boom*

  8. Deb says:

    What a scrumptious sandwich! Homemade is so much better, especially the bread and pesto! I want one now!

    • shannon says:

      Thank you Deb! I wholeheartedly agree: homemade is so much better. i can see how ciabatta may not be easy to just whip up at home, but i never understand why someone would buy jarred pesto when homemade is so simple.

  9. Wendy says:

    I love Bread Co. breakfast sandwiches (and several lunch sandwiches, soups, and breads). I may even have been one of the 2 people who liked their flat bread pizza, not so much as a pizza but as a snack. With a few shortcuts and tweaks, I ‘m excited to make this Mediterranian Sandwich at home.I am going to cheat and buy my ciabatta at Bread Co. and tweak the pesto with sunflower seeds instead of walnuts ( severe allergies and the compulsion to breathe). The best part will be having left over roasted tomatoes to find uses for!

    • shannon says:

      Wendy, it sounds like you’re me when it comes to Bread Co (except for the pizza part, although the snack versus pizza argument i would agree with for sure). And hey: we live in the land of Bread Co here, so please buy that bread at the mothership, for sure! Honestly, i know i’ll crave this sometimes and not have homemade ciabatta laying around, so that’s an easy alternative that completely works. As for the walnuts, i’d much rather you stay breathing ;) so definitely sub those out for something less problematic…i’ve never tried sunflower seeds in pesto, but i really want to. I’d love to hear what you use the leftover tomatoes for! I can’t wait to make another batch of those when i get home.

  10. Kim Beaulieu says:

    Marry me Shannon. Bring a few of these along for the honeymoon. Like 10 should cover it.

    • shannon says:

      I accept. Does marrying you mean i’ll somehow also be canadian? because i’ll bring however many sandwiches you want to make that happen. :)

  11. This looks yummy! Are Bread Co’s “breakfast” sandwiches only served in the morning, or is that menu available all day? I’d be interested in that as a lunch or dinner option. As a vegetarian, I usually find their menu a bit lacking/uninspiring, but an egg sandwich sounds quite nice.

    • shannon says:

      thanks melissa! I can see how vegetarians would find it to be lacking; as i sit here running through the menu in my head, i’m realizing that they don’t have many vegetarian options (unless you held the meat on everything, which is much easier to do on their salads than their sandwiches). I want to say i’ve ordered this in the afternoon before, and they’ve made it for me, so give it a try!

  12. Somehow I have to believe that this is way better than Panera. Pesto, tomatoes, good bread? And farm fresh eggs. I don’t get to Panera but I’ll trust that this is good. How could it not be so?

    • shannon says:

      Abbe, you give me too much credit! :) Trust me, even if you don’t frequent Panera, this is a solid breakfast (or anytime) sandwich if you’re a fan of the flavor combination.

  13. I’ve always liked Panera. They are definitely a stand-out among other food chains, and I love that they are so open (in comparison to others) about their foods and what’s in them. I have, at times in my life, gone vegan/gluten-free/other restriction (most recently as a way to test if I have any minor allergies or bad reactions to wheat or dairy), and walking into a Panera I’ve always been confident that I could ask them exactly what goes into each item on the menu, including salad dressings and the like.
    I’ve never actually had their Mediterranean egg sandwich before, but it sounds awesome! Roasted tomatoes are absolutely one of my favorite summer treats especially paired with pesto. I’m already planning to bake off a bunch of our tomatoes at the end of the season and freeze them just so I can stretch them as far as I can. I’ll have to give them a try in a sandwich like this. Yum!

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