Green Goddess Sandwiches

They say bad things happen in threes and this summer I seem to have reached my quota. First there was my pain in the neck, then a bout of poison oak. I figured that whatever karma had caught up with me, I was now in the clear. But then while photographing these sandwiches the other day, I toppled off a step stool and landed in the ER with three stitches in my knee.

I’ve never before had neck pain last more than a day, and before this month, I hadn’t experienced the itchy wonders of poison oak. Falling off of stepladders is not a summer activity in which I usually partake, either. Clearly this is all a sign that I need to stay indoors on the couch watching Britcoms, drinking aperol spritz floats, and eating sandwiches until Labor Day.

After the fall, during which I screamed bloody murder for about 5 minutes (I am not a graceful patient), Jay cleaned me up, plopped me on the couch with several ice packs, turned the laptop to face me, and finished shooting these sandwiches. What a nice guy, right? When the pain didn’t stop, we packed up the sandwiches and headed to the ER. The nurse asked if I had hit my head during the fall to which Jay responded, “She screamed. A lot. She was definitely not unconscious,” which caused the entire staff to laugh uproariously.

Due to the bodily harm they caused, I should hate these sandwiches if only they weren’t so tasty. As it is, we’ve been making them daily for our lunch. The idea came from a couple of different dining experiences. The first occurred at a restaurant that is usually quite excellent. I ordered a green goddess salad, excited for the little gems, radishes, avocado, red onion, and herbed vinaigrette promised by the menu. What I actually got were some chewed up outer leaves from a romaine head, rock-hard avocado chunks, and what tasted like a watered-down buttermilk dressing. I asked the server if I had perhaps been given the wrong salad, and she said, “No, that’s it.” The experience left me craving a proper green goddess coated in a nap of potent dressing.

The second source of inspiration was a simple vegetarian sandwich that Jay ordered from a cafe in our neighborhood that’s been around for ages. Sourdough bread, avocado, sprouts, cheese, tomatoes, and a slather of tasty aïoli, it was essentially a salad between two pieces of bread – tangy and cool.

This sandwich starts by blending good mayonnaise with garlic, anchovies, lemon, and a mess of herbs: basil, tarragon, and chives being my favored combination. This gets slathered on some bread (preferably a hearty sourdough) and topped with all the green things: thin slices of cucumber, green zebra tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, and lettuce. For protein and ooey-gooiness we add fresh mozzarella, and for extra pungence, some quickly-pickled spring onions.

Thus the sandwiches of our dreams: messy, bright, and ultra-flavorful. Hopefully they will cause no more debacles; I’m very carefully crossing my fingers…

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Sandwiches, sweet and savory:

Toasted Pan Bagnat with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Arugula
Oatmeal Chocolate Stout Ice Cream Sandwiches
Quinoa, Beet and Chickpea Burgers on Honey Oat Beer Buns

One year ago:

White Nectarine and Lemon Verbena Shortcakes

Two years ago:

Zucchini Cilantro Soup with Chile and Mint

Green Goddess Sandwiches

I like the briny umami that the anchovies add to the mayonnaise, but feel free to leave them out if you prefer. (You may wish to add more salt, garlic, or lemon if you do.) The mayonnaise keeps well for up to a week, staying vibrant green and marrying the flavors together nicely. I like the onions best when freshly pickled, but they will also keep in the fridge for a week or more. Wrapping the sandwiches in parchment paper prior to cutting them in half helps them to hold together, but feel free to skip this step in favor of deliciously messy sandwiches.

Green Goddess Mayonnaise (makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches):
1/3 cup packed basil leaves
1/3 cup packed tarragon leaves
1/3 cup packed chopped chives
2 medium-large garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup good mayonnaise (such as Spectrum’s olive oil mayonnaise)

Pickled spring onions (makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches):
2 spring onions, bulb thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed

Per sandwich:
2 slices pan bread (I like something with a neutral flavor such as Josie Baker’s Wonderbread)
1/2 a small, ripe avocado, sliced
2 fat slices fresh mozzarella
1 medium-sized green zebra tomato (or other heirloom tomato), sliced
a few thin slices cucumber
several slices pickled onion
a handful of sprouts (such as broccoli sprouts), rinsed and dried
a couple of small lettuce leaves (butter or romaine), rinsed and dried

Make the mayonnaise:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the lemon juice (i.e., the basil, tarragon, chives, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, salt, and mayonnaise) in the bowl of a food processor. Puree smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the lemon juice. Chill until needed.

Pickle the onions:
In a medium-sized jar, combine the onions slices, vinegar, sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Put the lid on the jar and let sit for at least 10 minutes, shaking a few times to dissolve the salt and sugar. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed, up to 1 week.

Assemble the sandwiches:
Toast the bread and spread both slices with a thick layer of the mayonnaise. Top with the avocado, mozzarella, tomato, cucumber, pickled onion, sprouts, and lettuce. Sandwich with the other slice of bread and press down gently. Optionally wrap the sandwich in parchment or secure with two toothpicks, and slice in half with a sharp serrated bread knife or chef’s knife.

72 thoughts on “Green Goddess Sandwiches”

    1. I'll usually take a toasted sandwich over a cold one, too, but these guys are refreshing on warm days. Thanks a lot for the well wishes and kind words!

  1. Oh no! Sorry about your tumble. Hope you are feeling better. These sandwiches look perfect. I was just thinking yesterday that I haven't been eating enough green things this week (read = lots of ice cream). So I need one of these STAT!

  2. Despite the fact that you had to go to the ER during the photoshoot, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sandwiches. I am not a salad/veggie person, but I bet I can definitely eat this everyday. It look oh-so-gorgeous & tasty. :)

    P.S. I feel like bringing a Thai soup over for all your injuries :)
    P.S. Jay is so funny.. hahaha

  3. Yikes, that is scary! Well I hope you are in the clear now that you've hit the "threes" threshold. I have had a couple of close calls while standing on the very top of one of those tall step stools, almost toppling over head first into my food, it's a risky job, this food blogging stuff. This sandwich sounds amazing, I could live on great sandwiches!

    1. Ack, totally – be careful! I am so investing in a new lens that will allow me to not have to move so far away from the food. :p Thanks a bunch for the kind words – I don't feel quite so foolish now.

    1. That sounds like a decent bet, or you could just blend the herbs with some olive oil and extra lemon juice, more like a vinaigrette. Let me know what you try!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Katie! I was a little nervous about styling and shooting them, too… and that was when I thought the only thing to go wrong would be bad pictures!

  4. OMG these sandwiches! They look so vibrant and full of goodness. I even have a great sourdough loaf in my freezer – it must be a sign that I should make these, ASAP. Hope you are feeling better after all your mishaps!

  5. Oh my goodness, Alanna! I'm so glad you are ok and only required a few stitches! I use a rickety old stool when trying to get the above shot and there are a few times I have almost toppled right over. I think I'm more worried about the fate of my camera than myself if that were to ever happen. I hope your camera is ok too! Food photography is a risky hobby, haha! These photos are so gorgeous! I've never wanted to eat a sandwich so much before, they look so amazing! I love all the ingredients and I wish I had one for lunch today :)

    1. Ok, I'm glad I'm not the only one to put my life on the line for food photos! You be careful from now on, you hear? I knocked the tripod leg on my way down and the camera was teetering above me. I was lying there thinking, "this is it. I just broke a bunch of bones and now my camera's going to break, too." It was about to fall through the window when Jay rushed over and rescued it. Such a close call! And no broken bones after all, thanks goodness. I got lucky in some ways. I wish I could bring you a sandwich for lunch! Someday. :)

  6. This is one of the prettiest things I've ever seen. It's so rare to find a "healthy" meal that is so inspiring, colorful, fresh, and still feels indulgent and homemade. Love it!

    1. Thanks! Sure, I wrapped them like you would a gift in a small, square box. We even used scotch tape to hold the folds in place. Let me know if that makes sense!

  7. Are there any substitutes one could use for the anchovies? Seems like a waste to buy them just to use 2, as I don't and won't eat them otherwise.

    1. I totally understand! I think you can simply leave them out; you may want to punch up the flavor with extra salt, garlic and/or lemon. I've also seen capers used as an anchovy substitute in other recipes. Let me know what you try!

  8. My favorite part of this story is that you had him finish taking the pictures while you were in pain on the couch (!!) and then you got to take these deliciously divine sandwiches with you to the ER! Hope you have a speedy recovery and are able to embrace a slower pace. :) I've been making a similar sandwich lately on toasted rye bread with a cilantro/basil/jalapeño spread. Must try yours asap though. YUM.

    1. I know, right?! The whole situation was pretty comical in hindsight. I got used to sitting on the couch watching Britcoms and being waited on. Now it's back to work, though! Your sandwiches sound heavenly – I'll have to try those!

  9. So sorry to hear about your knee and the trip to the ER. But on another note, these sandwiches look divine like green goddesses really (the post title definitely isn't misleading!). I'm quite sure that having these with you in the ER (!!) made that whole experience a little less painful. Or at least I hope they did.

    1. That is so sweet of you to say Sini – thanks! I was indeed very happy to have these to look forward to after the whole ordeal. Picnic at the ER! Always a good time..

  10. Oh man, what does not sound fun at ALL. Hope your recovery goes well, and feel better soon! And in the meantime, at least your sandwiches look completely amazing. Not worth a hospital visit (what is?), but amazing nonetheless. :)

  11. OhmyGOD I am so sorry to hear about your knee! And other trials as of late. Wow. You are such a soldier about it, though! And Jay, too–good teamwork under pressure, seriously.

    These sound absolutely incredible and I'm especially digging the addition of something pickled! Stroke of genius.

    Feel better soon!

  12. Oh no, so sorry about your knee! I once hit it by falling UP the stairs (haha) with a whole wheel of Stilton (I was a cheesemonger at the time). I chose to save the Stilton rather than freeing my hands, putting them on the floor and maybe make my landing better. I hit it on the corner of a step and hurt a lot for a few months, but then went back to normal and I am now running like I used to. Wish you a speedy recovery, too!

    The sandwich –OMG. I saw it on Twitter, then saw it on Pinterest, then landed here and made a note that I had to tell you how much I love it. It looks like the best sandwich Pret could ever imagine to produce, and if they ever did, I would be there every day. In the meantime, your recipe will be used over and over again from now on.

    P.S: thank you for introducing me to the magic world of Spritz float – being a Venetian missing Spritz every single day, that sounds like the dream.

    1. Ouch! You're a hero for stilton – so sorry it took so long to recover, but glad you're back at it! Thank you so much for the kind words. I have such fond memories of Venice! Hope your spritz float dreams come true. :)

  13. OH MY GOSH YOU POOR WOMAN! How scary!!! I'm glad you're not scorning these sandwiches out of retroactive bitterness over the fall because they look incredibly tasty, but I'm more relieved that you're doing okay! I can't believe you finished shooting this post (with such beautiful shots!) after you fell. Baha Alanna, you nutty goddess.

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