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…
Sandwiches, sweet and savory:
One year ago:
Two years ago:
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
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.