Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Sandwiches

Veggie BLTs (aka PLATs)


You guys. So good.


I’m super-excited, because, after a long dry spell with very little cooking inspiration, we have just started up with a new CSA. This is how I always used to cook — get the fresh, in-season, local veggies, and go from there. Waste not, want not (especially for dinner inspiration).

Then we had a new baby. And we decided to cancel our CSA for a bit, since we knew we wouldn’t be cooking that much for the early weeks, and well… we’ve been planning dinner in a less organic, more what-can-we-make-happen-in-the-next-few-minutes-before-meltdowns-occur sort of way for a while now. Yeah.

But we’re back in the groove! Last week was out first delivery from Farmhouse Delivery, which is kind of a local aggregate CSA for the Austin area. I love it already. In our first box, we got sweet corn on the cob, avocados, limes, giant slicing tomatoes and a beautiful head of butter lettuce, roots and all.


I also sprung for a weekly staples package, complete with organic, low-temp pasteurized milk from Mill King, fresh-baked multigrain bread and local free range eggs. Yes yes yes. Back.

We made a mixed grill with the corn and some tomatoes and peppers from our garden this weekend for dinner, served alongside a salad with red quinoa, feta, kalamata olives, red onions and some of that avocado, cubed. It was good stuff.

And, well, with such beautiful lettuce and tomatoes, I could think of only one thing: BLTs.

I am, of course, a vegetarian. But I live in a mixed household, and the omnivorous members of the family enjoy bacon. Naturally. Well, I remembered a staple from my childhood that I hadn’t had in a while — fried provolone. Yep, the cheese. If you fry deli slices of provolone on the stovetop, they bubble up, brown and become crispy, just like bacon, and they slide right out of the pan after you cool them slightly, with no need to add oil. Fried provolone is a fabulous substitute for bacon in a sandwich, and it did just the trick here. Plus I couldn’t resist adding some of that delicious avocado, because, let’s face it, just about everything is made better with a few slices of avocado. So, rather than a veggie BLT, perhaps we should call this sandwich a PLAT — provolone, lettuce, avocado and tomato.

I think sandwich recipes are kind of silly, since you basically just throw everything together according to your own taste, but here’s a good starting point for you, because this sandwich is just too delicious not to share!

Veggie BLTs (aka PLATs)
Recipe type: sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
  • 2 slices sandwich bread (preferably freshly-made sourdough)
  • mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  • butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried with paper towels
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  1. Put a nonstick griddle or frying pan over medium high heat and add the cheese slices in a single layer. Allow to fry, turning the pan to ensure even heating as necessary, until bubbly and golden brown on bottom. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and then tear into strips or large pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the bread and slather one side with mayo. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover the bread with lettuce leaves, and layer the tomato slices on top, using as many of each as suits your taste. Top with the provolone, and add avocado slices.
  4. Assemble, cut in half and chow down!


Hatch green chile and corn relish

Monday night is usually the hubby’s night to cook. When he suggested grilled cheese with some kind of Hatch green chile relish, I thought it sounded interesting, if a little weird. Well, guess what? It was actually awesome.


The relish was easy to make, especially since the corn had already been grilled and sliced from the cob, and goat cheese was the perfect flavor complement in a grilled cheese sandwich.

Relish that taste.

The relish only got better after sitting in the fridge for a few days, which meant that it also made for a great second-night dinner, and even a third-day lunch — score! We made quesadillas (Hatch green chile queso quesadilla for the big people, and cheddar for the little one) and topped them with a dollop of sour cream and healthy portion of the relish.


This relish takes advantage of two things that are in high season right now: sweet corn and Hatch green chiles. If I can find the time, I’ll be making some and canning it for Christmas gifts this year… plus some extra to keep, of course!

Hatch Green Chile and Corn Relish
Adapted from a Blue Mesa Grill recipe

3 cups corn, grilled or roasted and cut from the cob
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped Hatch green chiles (from about 8 roasted, peeled, and seeded chiles)
scant 1/4 cup olive oil
scant 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well and chill for several hours to let the flavors blend.

The Sandwich: A personal history

Editor’s note: He’s ba-aack! Today the hubby (aka Gourmet Omnivore Husband) will be regaling you with tales of sandwich greatness, since he’s the sandwich guy around here.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_Montagu.jpeg

The Earl of Sandwich

Along with being one of many words I simply cannot spell correctly the first time I try (calendar, fourth, and discrepancy being others), the sandwich is also a delicious meal. Lauren enjoys a good sandwich, but I am usually the sandwich chef. The sandwich and my family have a long history which probably explains this.

In some ways for me, the time when I started making sandwiches is the time I became an adult. Also, the time I became an old man is when Kids These Days started calling them “sammies”. But I digress.

As a young lad, my family always had lunch meat in the house. Always. My father would make delicious sandwiches for lunch if we asked, and we would occasionally even have sandwiches for dinner. While I was growing up, my dad’s sandwiches were always the best, by far, for two reasons: (1) he used mayo, salt, and pepper, and I was too lazy to use enough of these; and (2) the sandwich-someone-else-makes paradox is well understood.

When I went away to college, and in particular when I moved into my first apartment, I naturally thought that part of “being an adult” was to have sandwich* fixings around the house. Being a Junior Gourmet, rather than simply buying the cheap stuff, I went for Boar’s Head. I don’t know why or how Boar’s Head became the consummate middle-brow moderately up-market sandwich meat, but it did, and its marketing worked on me.

*BTW, I have now spelled it “sandwhich” first, 7 of the 10 times I have written the word.

But when it came down to it, it turned out that when you live alone, or with only one other person who isn’t in love with the sandwich, you really can’t get through a whole deli drawer worth of stuff in a week. So, as adult as it made me feel, I had to become more selective about what I ate.

That doesn’t mean that the sandwich hasn’t played a larger-than-average role in my adulthood. For some reason, I can remember many individual sandwiches I have had over the years. In 2008, I was working on an election issue and was in San Francisco for the day. I decided on the way home to try this place that the Yelp had been raving about: Ike’s Place.** The Forty!?!?, with chicken fried steak, cheddar, and jalapeno poppers, rocked my socks off.

**Their menu, at the time, was on MySpace! Ha!

For a time, I tried imitating Ike’s every so often. We had a pork roast and I sandwichified it. Stuff like that – repurpose a meal that wouldn’t normally be reused as a sandwich, toss it on some Dutch Crunch with a weird mixture of sauces and see what happens.

Another thing sandwiches are good for is breaking up a bike ride. Roberts Market in Woodside, CA was at the intersection of several major road cycling thoroughfares in the Bay Area Peninsula. When you entered Roberts, you were surrounded by the click-clack of cyclists’ shoes over the wooden floor, each of them rushing to the back to grab a number to get a fantastic California BLT (BLT + avocado)… or if you were the GVM, maybe a basil, tomato, and mozzarella sandwich.

Roberts Market. Not pictured: D-bags driving sports cars.

Speaking of tomato and mozzarella, I think my assignment was actually to write about a specific sandwich that I just made: a tomato and mozzarella open-faced sandwich with garlic-basil aioli.

An open-faced club — a sand wedge!

This meal was produced in two parts. First, I made the aioli for use with french fries** a few nights previous.

**We even gourmet-ify our frozen french fries around here.

Then, the other day, we needed lunch and I decided to make sandwiches with some stuff we had lying around. I have had an absolute devil of a time finding good bread in Austin. So if anyone knows where I can get a frikkin’ baguette with a properly crispy outside, please let me know. In the meantime, Sweetish Hill bakery will have to do.

In any case, combine a delicious aioli with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on a good-enough baguette, and you have Classy Sandwich Lunch. I considered eating mine with some generic HEB brand nacho cheese chips, but I didn’t want to get divorced yet.

Classy Sandwich Lunch, comin’ right up.

Tomato and Mozzarella Open-Faced Sandwich with Garlic-Basil Aioli

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbs basil, sliced thin
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 baguette
2-3 tomatoes
2 fresh mozzarella balls
good-quality balsamic vinegar

Quick-fry the garlic and basil in some olive oil, and blend with the lemon juice, mustard, and mayo. Let the mixture sit, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes***

The baguette was a day old, so I cut it in half and toasted it (4-5 minutes is enough). Slice your delicious tomatoes and mozzarella, and spread aioli on both sides of the baguette. Layer the tomatoes and mozzarella over the aioli, add a generous dash of balsamic vinegar, and it’s lunch!

***This is good within 30 minutes, but better after a day or two in the fridge.

10 easy lunches for a toddler

It can be really hard to come up with inspiration for quick, easy lunches for yourself, let alone a toddler, too. Since Nora goes from zero to famished in 3.2 seconds (and I am sure she is not alone in that), I like to have something quick at my fingertips so we can maximize our play time, and minimize the amount of time I spend with a whiny toddler hanging on my legs as I try to put lunch together.

Sure, now she’s satisfied.

Here are some of my favorite lunch ideas, in case you’re in need of inspiration:

1. Mac and cheese. Cook some pasta (macaroni or whatever small pasta you have handy), mix it with shredded cheese, a little butter, and a splash of milk on the stovetop, and voila! Throw in some veggies (my favorites are broccoli or baby greens like spinach or kale), or serve some on the side for a complete meal.

2. PB&J. You can’t beat a good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a quick, easy, and cheap. Peanut butter is good protein, and kids love it on a sandwich with the extra sweetness of jelly. If you don’t like jelly, you can always do peanut butter and bananas or even nutella instead. Be sure to serve it on whole grain bread for added fiber and protein.

3. Grilled cheese. As long as we’re talking sandwiches, a grilled cheese is easy and tasty, too. Serve with fruit and veggies for munching on the side. Nora still prefers hers cut into bite-sized pieces, which she pulls apart and devours cheese-first.

4. Quesadilla. Along the same lines, a quesadilla is basically a grilled cheese with tortillas instead of bread. Easy-peasy, and you can sneak some extra veggies in, too!

5. Cottage cheese. I love cottage cheese and crackers for lunch, and guess what — so does Nora! She gobbles the stuff down with a spoon. It’s great protein, and you can either mix in some fruit (pineapples, anyone?) or serve fruit or veggies with it.

6. Yogurt with fruit and graham crackers. Nora eats YoToddler for lunch once every couple of days, because she loves it so much, and it’s so darn easy and healthy. Serve it with some berries or a peach, and add a graham cracker as “dessert,” and we’re in business!

7. Whatever you’re eating. This is my go-to lunch for Nora, actually. I often eat leftovers from dinner the night before for lunch, and save some extra for her. She loves eating what Mommy is eating, and it’s so much better not to have to fix two separate meals.

8. Edamame and rice. You can buy frozen, cooked edamame and reheat it in the microwave. Add some leftover rice, and it’s a lovely Asian-inspired lunch.

9. Cream cheese and black olive sandwich. This is another easy, favorite sandwich, and I love it, too! Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches are lovely, too. Add some fresh berries or baby carrots to munch on the side.

10. Hummus with carrots and pita. Oh, how I wish my child loved hummus like I do! It’s such a good, healthy protein, but she won’t touch the stuff. Maybe someday — I keep trying. If you are luckier, you can tempt your little one with hummus and carrot sticks and/or pita bread for dipping.

Please share your favorite quick lunch ideas in the comments. I can always use some new inspiration!

Grilled cheese with mozzarella, tomato, and pesto

This week, once again, we found ourselves with a beautiful bunch of basil in our CSA box. There’s only one good way that I know of to use so much basil in one meal, and that’s pesto! Good thing there are a lot of great ways to use pesto, or I’d be getting really sick of it. I have to confess, while this meal was my idea, it was entirely put into practice by the hubby. He made grilled cheese sandwiches with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto while I went out for a happy hour, and even topped it off with a batch of from-scratch french fries. I knew I married him for a reason!

This is one of them, anyway.

You can make this grilled cheese as an easy weeknight meal with a recipe of the following pesto, plus some sliced fresh mozzarella, good, fresh tomatoes, and sliced country-style bread. The scratch fries are optional!

Simple Basil Pesto

1 large bunch of basil
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until it forms a coarse paste. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and let it process until the mixture is relatively smooth. Add the parmesan and process once more to incorporate. Taste and adjust salt as necessary.

Egg salad

I am always on the lookout for a good, easy, and preferably portable lunch. Leftovers from dinner are the best, as far as I’m concerned, but that’s not always an option, and I need something to feed two hungry adults and an even hungrier toddler most days. If I can make it ahead, I am even happier, since the hubby often takes his lunch to work, and toddlers tend to go from zero to starving (and screaming) in about 3 seconds.

Egg salad is an old go-to favorite that I haven’t made in a while, probably because I associate it with picnics and spring. It’s super-simple, and adding fresh dill really makes all the difference. I like to serve it as a sandwich on lightly toasted rye bread — delicious!

It is hard to make egg salad look good.

I think we can surmise that Nora also liked it.

Nom nom nom.

Egg Salad

6 eggs
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
fresh dill, chopped

Cover the eggs with cold water and add a dash of salt and a dash of white vinegar (optional). Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for one minute. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 12 minutes. Drain and add cold water to the pot. Repeat until the eggs are no longer hot.

Peel and chop the cooled eggs. In a medium bowl, stir in the mayo, mustard, and dill to taste. Use as a sandwich stuffing, preferably on rye bread.

A taste of my childhood

I am trying more and more to make things for Nora’s meals that I can eat, too, or vice versa. This is really the only practical course, since she’s always interested in what I’m eating, and preparing two separate meals is just a little silly. That was how, not too long ago, the two of us came to be sitting together at the dining room table eating cream cheese and black olive sandwiches for lunch.


It made me flash back to my own childhood a little bit. Cream cheese and black olive sandwiches were a perennial favorite in my lunch box, and, as it turns out, I grew up to favor the same whole wheat sprouted grain hippie-style bread my mom did, so the taste really did bring me back.

This sandwich is so easy that I actually can’t believe I hadn’t had one in such a long time. It’s just black olives folded into cream cheese spread on lightly toasted bread. Nora and I shared some blackberries to go with it. She seemed to like the sandwich, although she preferred the open-face version she (accidentally) created.

All the better to get to the cream cheese...

I’m glad I re-discovered this one, and it will definitely be on the lunch menu again soon.

Greens and manchego sandwiches

Today commences my Thanksgiving cooking frenzy, and I’m psyched! I’m making pies and a couple of sides for the dinner we’re having with friends, but that’s another post for another day. For now, I have another weeknight staple to share with you.

I know a greens sandwich sounds boring, but, seriously, it’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve had, and a go-to weeknight meal to boot! It really is simple — just sauté some greens, place them in a halved baguette over manchego cheese, add some herbed olive oil, and it’s dinner!

Yes, please.

I used red chard for these, but you can use most any greens you have on hand, including a blend of different ones. I almost always serve these sandwiches with oven fries of some sort. I have, on occasion, gotten ambitious and made my own, but usually I just use the bagged frozen ones from Alexia or Trader Joe’s. It makes a great meal!

Greens and Manchego Sandwiches
Adapted from this recipe from César

4 Tbsp (about) extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 bunch of greens (chard, arugula or spinach work best), tough stems removed
1 baguette
12 thin slices of manchego cheese (about 1/4 pound)
mixed fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, or whatever you have on hand that would make a nice combination)

Chop the mixed herbs and add one minced clove of garlic and a good glug of olive oil to them in a bowl (about 3 Tbsp). Mix and set aside.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and stir for a few seconds. Add the greens and cook, stirring, until completely wilted. Remove to a colander and season with salt.

Cut the baguette into 10-inch lengths (or just use demi-baguettes) and slice them in half lengthwise, leaving a hinge. Brush the inside with herb oil and layer the slices of manchego cheese across the bottom half. Makes 2 sandwiches.

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