This California veggie sandwich makes the most of the state’s summer bounty

I like to think of myself as someone who would eat anything. Organ meats? Love you. Live seafood? Easy. Fried crickets? They’re great dipped in chili powder, between sips of mezcal. And I don’t hate many dishes, but the one closest to me is the salad, especially the whole meal. And being in Southern California, most likely the land of the best salads one can have in America, I know that’s not the prevailing view.

Salads are great, and clean shaved veggies are delightful. But together in a bowl all of themselves? That’s where I got lost. Even if you eat it full of cheese, meat or bread, it still doesn’t feel substantial enough to me. Yes, I eat a minimum of four eggs for breakfast every day and often leave a whole large egg alone when I go out to dinner, so “significant” means something different for me than you.

But over the years living in Los Angeles, I’ve found my version of a salad that I absolutely love: the California vegetarian sandwich. Basically, a salad between two slices of bread, it’s the dish that makes me happy to eat tons of raw and veg every day. But calling it a sandwich is not quite right because in the first place it misses what makes a great veggie sandwich. It is special mix Vegetables – cool cucumbers, creamy avocado, and crunchy, sweet sprouts – make the trio for a perfect sandwich.

Years ago, when I first moved to New York City from Mississippi, where I was raised on a steady diet of fried catfish and stewed turnip greens, I fell in love with “hippie” food. ” that I come across in health food stores. does not exist where I grew up. Seitan or tofu sandwiches, filled with sprouts and hummus, sandwiched between two slices of soggy bread wrapped in cellophane; they are guiding a child to BLT which is almost like a veggie sandwich you can get. And somehow, I also find them delicious in a new way, even though they’re as dry as Mojave and I’ll have to chop off each bite with a sip of water.

But when I work at a restaurant or in the experimental kitchen of a culinary magazine, where rich, rich, rich dishes surround me, there must be something in the sandwiches.” health” dry that my body craves to balance the rest. food I ate during the day. In my early days at Saveur magazine, my colleague Betsy Andrews wrote about the “California sandwich” for a sandwich-themed special. I got to experiment with the recipe – some alfalfa sprouts, tomato slices, avocado and homemade dairy ranch sauce between two slices of wholemeal bread – and I was immediately hooked when I tasted it. This is what I want all those dry bodega sandwiches to be.

LOS ANGELES, CA - September 8, 2022: Vegetarian sandwich ingredients. (Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

(Katrina Frederick / For The Times)

Since that day, making veggie sandwiches has become a pastime, especially on Sundays after the farmers market opens. My partner loves these sandwiches too, so we often play around with different combinations or look for new ones to try at restaurants. Of the ones I bought, fortunately two are in my neighborhood. One is at All Time, Tyler and Ashley Wells’ restaurant in Los Feliz. Their bread – the size of a baby – features sourdough bread bursting at the edge with cucumber, sprouts, avocado, cheddar cheese, pickled red onions and most importantly, Kewpie mayo; it’s a great deli-style iteration. And the second is at Friends & Family’s Roxana Jullapat in East Hollywood, where her “hippie” sandwich takes a slightly greener approach, filling their homemade sourdough with mashed chickpeas, avocado , cucumber and sprouts with savory Greek feta and spicy radish.

All three of these sandwiches have influenced recipes I’ve been making over the past few weeks – the veggie sandwich is the perfect lunch for this special part of the summer. I started with a whole grain bread, which I normally hate, but with this bread, it works. You want that greasy, greasy bread to balance out the non-vegetable ingredients and give the sandwich a lot of weight, lest it float through the air with nothing but feathers inside. . Whether it’s five beads, seven beads, or nearly 31 nuts, I don’t care; The more seeds the better.

Then I prepare store-bought mayonnaise with fresh chives and lime juice, but that’s it; I want to keep this relationship as simple as possible. (Homemade mayonnaise would obviously work well here, too, but I’ve done enough of that in my life and would rather leave it to the pros.) I spread the mayo on the bread then overlap the cucumber slices for cold brittle; butter for green, creamy like wax; and sharp white cheddar for a salty, fatty taste.

But the best part of the sandwich is the sprouts. I suspect the sprout is where the nickname “California” originated, decades ago, anything that seemed healthy was synonymous with the state. Regardless of their origin, I love how the sprouts wrap around each other and when you bite down they crumble, releasing their little bite. And as anyone who’s eaten a veggie sandwich knows, just a little sprinkling of sprouts won’t do; they should be packaged like a baseball-sized feather ball, forming at least half the thickness of the entire sandwich. I like the clean, classic taste of alfalfa sprouts, but beet or broccoli sprouts are great too; Use whatever you can find.

That volume of sprouts is a great balance for mayo, cheese and butter – even with all those greasy ingredients staring at, this sandwich isn’t afraid to declare itself as ” good for health”. And I guess I found myself in it too. I’m trying my best to eat my veggies all the time, but I know that all I really want is greens amid some delicious bread with lots of cheese and mayo. After all the dry tofu sandwiches I’ve eaten in my life, is that too much to ask?

Get the formula:

Time10 minutes

yieldsMake 2 breads This California veggie sandwich makes the most of the state’s summer bounty

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