California Dreaming

The  Ultimate Vegetarian Sandwich

Eighteen years ago today, I threw caution to the wind, packed a suitcase, loaded my cat, Isabella into her travel carrier, and boarded a jet plane to California and I've never looked back.

Mr. B and I lived in a beautiful, but tiny apartment just off of Union Square in San Francisco. The apartment had a small galley kitchen with a window that opened onto a fire escape, built in shelving, and just enough room to squeeze in a pub table and two chairs, the latter quickly became our favorite spot to cozy in and enjoy a late night snack.

Overnight, I became an urban dweller and without a car, every errand--including grocery shopping--had to be done on foot. I quickly learned to buy only what I could carry the 12 blocks from the grocery back to our apartment. Thankfully, among our favorite midnight noshes were big over-stuffed sandwiches that required two hands to eat, but even with the most elaborate ingredients, everything could easily fit into one shopping bag, leaving my other hand free to carry a bag with a few bottles of wine and an assortment of potato chips.

It was in that apartment where late one night, I concocted this sandwich, a vegetarian delight, that serves as more than a delicious midnight repast, but also as my homage to California, whose beautiful rolling landscapes, rocky coastline, and blue sunny skies completely captured my soul.

Mel's California Girl Sandwich

2 thick slices of good quality whole grain, seeded wheat bread
2 thick slices of pepper jack cheese
Red onion slices
Avocado slices
Tomato slices
Alfalfa sprouts
Fresh spinach leaves
Sliced black olives
Sliced pepperoncini
Whole grain, brown mustard
salt and pepper

1. Lightly toast the bread and spread with the whole grain mustard.
2. Place the tomato slices on a plate and cover with the red onions and cheese; microwave until the cheese is melted.
3. Top the bottom slice of bread with the tomatoes, onions, cheese and top with black olives and pepperoncini.
4. Layer the avocado slices on the other piece of bread and season with salt and pepper; top with spinach and a generous handful of alfalfa sprouts.
5. Sandwich the two halves together and press down slightly.
6. Serve with a glass of wine and great late night conversation.


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