Friday, February 02, 2007

Garden of Eatin'

When I was an undergraduate at Arizona State University, my two good friends and I formed a trio of homework problem-solvers - not that we actually finished any of the homework problems, but we certainly spent a lot of time pretending to. We often needed somewhere to sit other than the library (an awful place where they didn't allow Cappuccinos or Laughter). One of our favorite places to go was a little cafe just on the outskirts of campus. There, they had the best vegetarian sandwich I've ever ever had. The sandwich was called the Garden of Eatin', and it Eden indeed.

The sandwich started thusly: cream cheese spread over toasted whole grain bread, piled with sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, provolone, and, quite the best part of all, a splash of Italian salad dressing. The salad dressing would drizzle down through the vegetables and soak into the bread, ensuring a juicy, flavorful mouthful with every bite. It was always fantastic, and we always ordered the same mocha espresso drinks to go alongside. Mmm, memories. After I graduated, I heard they closed the cafe and turned into a meat deli. All good things must, well, you know... but I do hate to think of our lovely little vegetarian cafe serving up slabs of beef and racks of ribs.

From that point onward, whenever I found my vegetarian sandwiches needing a little something extra, I headed to the salad dressing. Now, I often drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar over sandwiches and wraps - it adds the fat, flavor and moisture that veggie sandwiches so frequently crave.

Recently Greg and I have been enjoying an assemblage of vegetables that goes by no other name than "That awesome sandwich", and I present it to you here in all of its glory. It's refreshing, filling, flavorful, and full of bursts of tangy flavor. The secret? Really, really sharp, well-aged Cheddar, and the splash of lemon juice on the avocado. Think of it as guacamole without a bowl.

"That Awesome Sandwich"
(AKA, "Rachael's Garden of Eatin' Sandwich")
Serves 2

4 slices of whole grain bread
2 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp freshly chopped green onions
3-4 tbsp Mayo, depending on the size of your bread and Mayo preference
2 tbsp grainy Dijon Mustard
1 Meyer Lemon
1 Haas Avocado
1/2 Red Onion, sliced thin
4 oz very good, very sharp and crumbly Cheddar cheese, sliced thin
Green leaf lettuce
Olive oil, or salad dressing of your choice
Salt and pepper

  1. Start the bread toasting. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables
  2. Stir together mayonnaise with parsley and green onion. Spread half of the mayo mixture on one slice and half of the mustard mixture on the other slice. Repeat for the second sandwich.
  3. Layer the mayo side with cheese, lettuce, avocado and red onion. Give the lemon a very generous squeeze: at least 1/4 of the whole lemon should be juiced onto the sandwich. (Don't skimp on the Mayo, since it balances out the tartness of the lemon.)
  4. Grate salt and pepper on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Add another leaf of lettuce
  5. Assemble the sandwich and enjoy.

*This recipe is the simple version. I like spice, so usually I drizzle on some hot sauce and/or a spicy chipotle sauce - now that I am starting to warm up to the flavor. There are, of course, many delicious add-ons. For example: sliced tomatoes, cucumber, sunflower seeds, sliced red peppers, Cayenne pepper (mmmmm), sundried tomatoes, fresh garlic, beans, etc. Use your imagination!


Anonymous said...

We had a sandwich similar to this when I was in grad school in Alabama. Only, the shop took sour cream and mixed in lovely herbs with some other stuff they wouldn't tell us. I loved the avocado on it mushed with the bean sprouts...Okay, those ingredients are so going on the grocery list this weekend.

I'm going to have to work on the spread and try to replicate the taste.

Rachael said...

Mmm, sour cream? I never thought of that - it sounds delicious actually!

I think anything full of fat would be good for the spread! I like mayo quite a bit - it's not the healthiest, but it adds so much to a sandwich. I've also made this sandwich with that tarragon dip I posted about a while ago and it was really yummy - I keep meaning to add a splash of rice vinegar to the mayo before making it